FCC allows partial credit for expired licenses

ARRLFCC LogoYou may have heard that the FCC has approved a rules change with regard to expired licenses. Yesterday, the ARRL sent out an e-mail for VEs explaining how this is supposed to work:

Information regarding FCC Rule changes

The FCC has revised the Amateur Service Part 97 rules to grant partial written examination element credit to holders of expired General, Advanced and Extra licenses. The new rules become effective 30 days after their publication in The Federal Register, which is Monday July 21, 2014.

Expired license holders will not automatically receive credit on that day and may not operate as a new licensee.
The FCC requires former licensees — those falling outside the 2-year grace period — to pass Element 2 (Technician) in order to be relicensed.

To take advantage of the new rule, holders of expired licenses must attend an exam session. There they would present a photo ID and their expired license proof, pay the $15 exam session processing fee and take the Technician exam.

If an applicant held a General or Advanced license, and has proof, the FCC will afford credit for the General (Element 3) written exam only. If an applicant held an Extra license, and has proof, the FCC will afford credit for the General (Element 3) and Extra (Element 4) written exams. At VE exam sessions it is the applicant (not the VEs or coordinating VEC) who is responsible for supplying the evidence of holding valid expired license credit. Acceptable forms of proof can be found on the Exam Element Credit web page at http://www.arrl.org/exam-element-credit.

If sufficient proof is not presented, the candidate has the option of taking the Tech exam and earning just a new Tech license and then attending another exam session at a later date when they have the proper documentation.
As always, the candidate will have to show a photo ID, present the proof, pay the $15 exam session processing fee and fill out all forms to receive the paper upgrade. The upgrade is not automatic and may NOT be sent directly to the FCC or to the VEC by the candidate.

Expired licensees will not automatically get their old call sign back. FCC will issue a new sequentially issued call sign. If they desire to obtain their old call sign they may try to do so through the FCC vanity call sign program. However, someone else may have already obtained their old call sign as a vanity call sign and therefore it would not be available.

Operating Notes: (Un)Clubs, certificates, W100AW

Over the weekend, I made a few QSOs of note:

WB2KQG. 20m wasn’t in great shape when I called CQ on 20m CW on Saturday from the museum, but I managed to raise Vinny, WB2KQG. When I called up his QRZ.Com page, I found the banner below and a link to a site with a description of the Radio League of America, an early competitor of the ARRL. Were it still around, the RLA would be celebrating its centennial in 2015, and to commemorate that, Vinny is offering a certificate. To get the 8.5 x 11-in. certificate, send an SASE to Vinny. I’ll be getting one of these certificates for myself.

 radioleague

AC2EU. On Jim, AC2EU’s QRZ.Com page, he notes that he is a former coordinator of the QSY Society, and notes, “The society is a bit different than other clubs in that it focuses on discussions of the Amateur Radio hobby at every meeting.” I didn’t get a chance to talk to Jim about how his club is different, but I did visit their website. Here’s how they describe themselves:

The QSY Society was formed in 1996 by a group of hams who felt there was a legitimate need for an alternative to the conventional ham radio club.  These plankowners observed that formal structure, business discussions, and the focus on the more traditional aspects of emergency operations and public service often left precious little time for good old fashioned social interaction and sharing.

The purpose of QSY Society is to create an environment in which persons with an interest in ham radio – whether licensed or not – can come together to explore the many facets of amateur radio in an informal and friendly environment where there are “no dumb questions” and “no smart answers.”

That’s as good a description of an “un-club” as I’ve seen, and I think that I would enjoy being a member of the QSY Society.

KK4UVW. When I first heard Chris, KK4UVW, calling CQ, I almost didn’t reply. His sending was slow, but he had a good fist. Then, I looked him up on QRZ.Com, and knew I had to reply. Even if the picture on QRZ.Com is an older one, he’s still quite young, and we should encourage young people to be active in amateur radio, and the more experienced CW ops should encourage those who are just getting started or are less experienced.

W100AW. On Sunday afternoon, I worked W100AW. This was the first time that I’d even heard this station. To get a QSL card, you have to sign up for it on the ARRL website. When you do that, you’re also signing up to get cards from all the W1AW/x stations you’ve worked, too. Seems to me that it would be a lot cheaper to allow me to sign up only for a W100AW card, but hey, I don’t make those decisions. The ARRL will be sending the cards through the QSL bureaus, so you’ll have to have a current account at the appropriate bureau.

Note that in each case—except for W100AW—what made the contact was the information posted on QRZ.Com. Having a computer in the shack has made my operating that much more interesting. So, please post some info there if you haven’t already and tell us about you. You never know who you’ll inspire or how it will make your QSOs better.

ARRL prez calls for hams to support for HR.4969, the Amateur Radio Parity Act

ARRLIn a video, ARRL President Kay Craigie, N3KN, has issued an urgent call to action to all radio amateurs to get behind a grassroots campaign to promote co-sponsorship of HR.4969, “The Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2014.” HR.4969 would require the FCC to extend PRB-1 coverage to restrictive covenants. It was introduced in the US House with bipartisan support on June 25 at the request of the ARRL, which worked with House staffers to draft the legislation. The measure would require the FCC to apply the “reasonable accommodation” three-part test of the PRB-1 federal pre-emption policy to private land-use restrictions regarding antennas. The bill’s primary sponsor is Rep Adam Kinzinger (R-IL). It had initial co-sponsorship from Rep Joe Courtney (D-CT).

President Craigie also exhorted all radio amateurs regarding support for HR.4969 in remarks appearing in the The ARRL Legislative Update Newsletter. Craigie stressed in the Newsletter that the legislation stands to benefit not just today’s radio amateurs but those in the future.

“Chances are, those Americans of the future will grow up in communities having private land use restrictions,” she said “That is the way the country is going, and it is very bad for Amateur Radio. How can Amateur Radio thrive, if more and more Americans cannot have reasonable antennas at home? You and I have to stand for the Amateurs of the second century.”

If the measure passes the 113th Congress, it would require the FCC to amend the Part 97 Amateur Service rules to apply PRB-1 coverage to include homeowners’ association regulations and deed restrictions, often referred to as “covenants, conditions, and restrictions” (CC&Rs). At present, PRB-1 only applies to state and local zoning laws and ordinances.

An HR.4969 page now is open on the ARRL website. It contains information and resources for clubs and individuals wishing to support efforts to gain co-sponsors for the measure by contacting their members of Congress.

ARRL to sign MOA with FEMA, PRB-1 to extend to HOAs?

In addition to the news about a new director for the Great Lakes Division, this week’s ARRL Letter also had two other items of interest:

FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate, KK4INZ

FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate, KK4INZ

ARRL, FEMA to Sign Memorandum of Agreement at National Centennial Convention
The ARRL and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will sign a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) at the ARRL National Centennial Convention, taking place July 17-19 at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. ARRL President Kay Craigie, N3KN, will join FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, KK4INZ, on Friday, July 18, at 4:15 PM, in signing the MOA, which is aimed at fostering greater cooperation between the League and FEMA in the area of disaster communication and support. Fugate will speak at the Centennial Banquet later that evening, and more than 850 are expected to attend.

I’ll be very interested in reading this MOA…Dan

Grassroots Campaign Underway to Promote Co-Sponsorship of “Amateur Radio Parity Act”
A grassroots effort is underway to encourage radio amateurs to promote co-sponsorship of HR.4969, the Amateur Radio Parity Act. The measure, introduced in the US House with bipartisan support on June 25, calls on the FCC to apply the “reasonable accommodation” three-part test of the PRB-1 federal pre-emption policy to private land-use restrictions regarding antennas. The bill’s primary sponsor is Rep Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), and it has initial co-sponsorship from Rep Joe Courtney (D-CT). With Congress going on its August recess in a few weeks, the campaign is focusing on contacting Members of Congress or their staffers at or through their district offices during the break. Getting additional lawmakers to sign on as HR.4969 co-sponsors is considered essential to the bill’s success.

“This is the ideal time for you to develop small teams of constituents to approach members of Congress in their district offices,” said ARRL Hudson Division Director Mike Lisenco, N2YBB, a principal proponent of HR.4969. “Ideally, you’d want no more than three members to go to a meeting with a Member of Congress or top staff members. These need to be active, articulate individuals who present themselves well.” Individual radio amateurs or clubs also may wish to e-mail or write their representatives to urge them to cosponsor the bill.

The primary point to convey is that the greatest threat to Amateur Radio volunteer emergency and public service communication is restrictions that prohibit the installation of outdoor antenna systems. Nearly 30 years ago the FCC, in adopting its PRB-1 policy, acknowledged a “strong federal interest” in supporting effective Amateur Radio communication. In the intervening years, PRB-1 has helped many amateurs to overcome zoning ordinances that unreasonably restricted Amateur Radio antennas in residential areas. The 11-page PRB-1 FCC Memorandum Opinion and Order is codified at § 97.15(b) in the FCC Amateur Service rules, giving the regulation the same effect as a federal statute.

After the Telecommunications Act of 1996 ordered the FCC to enact regulations preempting municipal and private land-use regulation over small satellite dishes and broadcast TV antennas, the FCC further acknowledged that it has jurisdiction to preempt private land-use regulations that conflict with federal policy. At this point, PRB-1 only applies to state and local zoning laws and ordinances. The Commission has indicated that it won’t extend the policy to private land-use regulation unless Congress instructs it to do so.

If HR.4969 passes the 113th Congress, it would compel the FCC, within 120 days of the Bill’s passage, to amend the Part 97 Amateur Service rules to apply PRB-1 coverage to include homeowners’ association regulations and deed restrictions, often referred to as “covenants, conditions, and restrictions” (CC&Rs). HR.4969 has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Rep Greg Walden, W7EQI (R-OR), chairs that panel’s Communications and Technology Subcommittee, which will consider the measure.

Among other tips, Lisenco advises groups setting up in-person visits with representatives to pick a leader, listen carefully, and leave behind information [see below] that supports your primary points, plus a business card. “Business cards are a big thing in DC,” he pointed out. “Make certain to take them when going to DC or a district office.”

“This isn’t rocket science, but it does take planning and the ability to state your case succinctly in no more than 15 minutes,” Lisenco advised. He said delegations should follow up with a thank you note within a day and a telephone call a week later.

An information sheet on HR.4969, a list of “talking points,” and a sample constituent letter to a Member of Congress will be available soon.

 

ARRL Great Lakes Division Leadership Changes

Here’s an interesting item from Thursday’s ARRL Letter. I know Dale fairly well, and served as his Affiliated Club Coordinator for a few years when he was the Michigan Section Manager. I would encourage all of you to bombard him with your concerns about the ARRL and amateur radio. I’ve already communicated with him about some of my concerns about the ARRL’s support for clubs….Dan

Dale Williams, WA8EFK

Dale Williams, WA8EFK

The leadership of the ARRL Great Lakes Division has changed. Director Jim Weaver, K8JE, announced his retirement from the ARRL Board of Directors, effective on July 7. Vice Director Dale Williams, WA8EFK, of Dundee, Michigan, has succeeded him as Director. The Great Lakes Division is made up of Ohio, Michigan, and Kentucky.

Weaver, of Mason, Ohio, had served as the League’s Great Lakes Division Director since January 2003. He was a member of the Programs & Services and CEO Candidate Screening committees. He continues to hold several Field Organization appointments in Ohio.ARRL President Kay Craigie, N3KN, appointed W. Thomas “Tom” Delaney, W8WTD, of Cincinnati, Ohio, to fill the resulting Vice Director vacancy. Both Williams and Delaney will attend the ARRL National Centennial Convention and the July ARRL Board of Directors’ meeting following the convention in Hartford, Connecticut.

Williams had been Great Lakes Division Vice Director since January 2012. He previously served as ARRL Michigan Section Manager — from 1992 until 1997, and from 2003 until 2011.

Vice Director Delaney was a Public Information Officer for about a decade. He is active with the Queen City Emergency Net and belongs to several clubs in Cincinnati. Delaney also is the volunteer chairman of the Communications Committee for Disaster Services at the Cincinnati Area Chapter of the American Red Cross.

From my inbox: 100 years of ham radio, spectrum analysis, mesh networks

Celebrating 100 years of ham radioThis month marks the centennial of the American Radio Relay League, the largest ham radio association in the United States. That means it will be a special year for the hundreds who converge annually on W1AW, a small station known as “the mecca of ham radio” in Newington, Conn., to broadcast radio signals across the globe.

Spectrum Analysis Basics - Application Note 150Spectrum Analysis Basics – A Resource Toolkit. Learn about the fundamentals with Agilent’s most popular and recently updated application note, Spectrum Analysis Basics – Application Note 150, which is now paired with a toolkit of app notes, demo videos, web/mobile apps, and related material.

When the Internet Dies, Meet the Meshnet That Survives. The art and technology nonprofit center Eyebeam recently staged a small-scale scenario that mimicked the outage that affected New York after Superstorm Sandy hit in 2012. As part of the drill in Manhattan, a group of New Yorkers scrambled to set up a local network and get vital information as the situation unfolded.

Weird ARRL BOD Meeting Announcement

This just arrived in my inbox:

AGENDA
Special Meeting
ARRL Board of Directors
By Webinar
9:00 PM EDT Thursday, May 22, 2014

  1. Roll call and announcement that the meeting is being recorded
  2. Consideration of the agenda for the meeting
  3. Explanation of procedures for the conduct of the meeting
  4. Review of a recent decision of the Ethics and Elections Committee with regard to the application of the conflict of interest policy
  5. Adjournment

As some of you may know, I ran for Great Lakes Division Vice Director a couple of times, failing both times. The second time around, I was almost disqualified by the Ethics and Election Committee because at one point, although not at the time of the election, I was selling amateur radio books online. I had given up on that because it was just too hard to compete with Amazon and with the ARRL, given that the ARRL was able to advertise freely in QST.

When I demonstrated that the bookstore was no longer active to the committee, they rescinded the disqualification, and I was allowed to run. Unfortunately, it didn’t do any good. I lost that election by 12 votes.

I suspect that the board is going to be reviewing a similar case tonight.

ARRL Executive Committee meets Saturday, 3/29

The ARRL Executive Committee is meeting this Saturday. I received the agenda for the meeting yesterday. They will be addressing a lot of interesting issues, including:

  • RM-11715; Mimosa Networks, Inc. Petition for Rule Making, proposing Part 90 Mobile allocation in the 10.0-10.5 GHz band; impact on Amateur secondary allocation at 10.0- 10.5 GHz (Development of policy for response to Petition; comment date April 11, 2014).
  • RF Lighting Device Complaint to FCC (Complaint Filed with FCC March 12, 2014; consideration of further strategies to address Part 15 and Part 18 RF devices, especially RF Lighting devices; partnering with AM Broadcast advocates).
  • WT Dockets 12-283 and 09-209; RM-11625 and RM-11629; Amendment of the Amateur Service Rules Governing Qualifying Examination Systems and Other Matters; Amateur Use of Narrowband TDMA Part 90 equipment in the Amateur Service; Examination Session Remote Proctoring (ARRL comments filed December 21, 2012; second temporary waiver request for TDMA emission granted).
  • ARRL Petition for Rule Making to Amend Parts 2 and 97 to Create a New MF Allocation for the Amateur Service at 472-479 kHz. (Status of 472-479 kHz Petition filed November 29, 2012); and ET Docket 12-338, Amendment of Parts 1, 2, 15, 74, 78, 87, 90 & 97 of the Commission’s Rules Regarding Implementation of the Final Acts of the World Radiocommunication Conference (Geneva 2007), Other Allocation Issues, and Related Rule Updates; 135.7-137.8 kHz and 1900-2000 kHz primary allocation.
  • ET Docket 13-84; Reexamination of RF exposure regulations. (FCC proposal to subject the Amateur Service to a “general exemption” table for conducting a routine environmental review of a proposed new or modified station configuration; exemption criteria as the preemptive standard as against more stringent state or local criteria.) 

 

As you can see, there’s a lot going on. Contact your division director if you have a comment or question about any of these issues.

ARRL Board Requests Member Comments About Digital Modes

ARRLSB QST @ ARL $ARLB007
ARLB007 ARRL Board Requests Member Comments About Digital Modes

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ARRL Bulletin 7  ARLB007
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT  March 3, 2014

To all radio amateurs

SB QST ARL ARLB007
ARLB007 ARRL Board Requests Member Comments About Digital Modes

At the January 2014 ARRL Board of Directors meeting, a resolution was passed which asked for member feedback and input pertaining to the increasing popularity of data modes. The information gathered by  this investigation is to be used by the HF Band Planning Committee of the Board as a means to suggest ways to use our spectrum efficiently so that these data modes may “compatibly coexist with each other.”  As per the resolution, the ARRL Board of Directors is now reaching out to the membership and requesting cogent input and thoughtful feedback on matters specific to digital mode operation on the HF bands.

The feedback may include, but is not limited to, the recent proposal the ARRL made to the FCC, RM 11708, regarding the elimination of the symbol rate restrictions currently in effect.  A FAQ on RM 11708 can be found on the web at, http://www.arrl.org/rm-11708-faq .

The Board of Directors believes that member input in the decision making process is both valuable and important as well as fostering a more transparent organization.  It is to this end that we open this dialogue.

Comments must be received no later than March 31, 2014 to be included in the Committee’s report to the Board at the July 2014 ARRL Board of Directors meeting. Please e-mail your comments to: HF-Digital-Bandplanning@arrl.org

Concerned members may also contact their Division Director by mail, telephone or in person with any relevant information.

ARRL membership: Is 25% asking too much?

ARRLIn the March 2014 issue of QST, Harold Kramer, WJ1B makes a big deal of the fact that ARRL membership is now up to 162,200 members and growing at a rate of about 1% per year. After patting the ARRL on the back about this, WJ1B launches into a discussion of the different programs that WJ1B feels have contributed to the membership growth.

Let’s take another look at the numbers, though. As the editorial points out, 10,300 ARRL members are international members, meaning that there 151,900 U.S. hams are ARRL members. Another article in the March issue, “New Licenses,” notes that the total number of licensed radio amateurs at the end of 2013 was 717,201. If you do the math, you’ll find that only slightly more than one in five hams are ARRL members. I personally don’t think that’s so hot, and it’s certainly not worthy of all the self-congratulation going on in this editorial.

The licensing article also points out that “the amateur radio population in the US grew by slightly more than 1 percent last year.” That being the case, ARRL membership has grown at about the same rate. If all the programs noted in WJ1B’s editorial were so effective, wouldn’t you expect membership growth to be at least 2%?

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. I think the ARRL should set a goal to enroll at least 25% of licensed radio amateur as members. It seems to me that any group calling itself “the national organization for amateur radio” should have at least one in four amateur radio operators as part of their membership. I think it says something that the membership rate is so low.

What do you think? Am I right or is reaching 25% asking too much?