New Amateur Radio Vanity Call Sign Fee Set at $21.40

From the ARRL:

ARLB016 New Amateur Radio Vanity Call Sign Fee Set at $21.40

ARRL Bulletin 16  ARLB016
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT  September 4, 2014
To all radio amateurs

ARLB016 New Amateur Radio Vanity Call Sign Fee Set at $21.40

The FCC has adjusted very slightly downward – to $21.40 – its proposed Amateur Service vanity call sign regulatory fee for Fiscal Year 2014. In a June Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM), the Commission said it was planning to hike the current $16.10 vanity fee to $21.60 for the 10-year license term. The FCC released a Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (R&O) in the proceeding on August 29, in which it recalculated the fee to $21.40 for the 10-year license term. The $5.30 increase still represents the largest vanity fee hike in many years.

The new $21.40 fee does not go into effect until 30 days after the R&O is published in The Federal Register.

In the R&O, the FCC said it considered eliminating the regulatory fee for Amateur Radio vanity call sign applications but decided not to do so “at this time,” because it lacks “adequate support to determine whether the cost of recovery and burden on small entities outweighs the collected revenue; or whether eliminating the fee would adversely affect the licensing process.” The Commission said it would reevaluate this issue in the future to determine if it should eliminate other fee categories.

The FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau sets the vanity call sign regulatory fee using projections of new applications and renewals, taking into consideration existing Commission licensee databases, such as the Universal Licensing System (ULS) database.

The FCC reported there were 11,500 “payment units” in FY 2014. The Commission said the vanity program generated an estimated $230,230 in FY 2013 revenue, and it estimated that it would collect nearly $246,100 in FY 2014.

The vanity call sign regulatory fee is payable when applying for a new vanity call sign or when renewing a vanity call sign, although some older vanity call signs are not subject to the regulatory fee.

Love from my readers

One of the coolest things about writing my No-Nonsense study guides is the e-mail I get from my readers. At least once a week, I get an e-mail thanking me for the help that my study guides provided. Here are some samples:

I wanted to thank you for the materials I found on line for preparing for the Technician and General Class exams. I passed my Tech test in Feb 2014 and upgraded to general today. I could not have done it without your no nonsense study guides. 73, Joe

Hi Dan. Thanks for your wonderful guide. I used it and passed Tech exam (with zero -0- incorrect). It was perfect for explaining and as a study guide. I wish I studied and taken General. I’ve started and already am passing General practice exams. I used eham and AA9PW for practice exams. Yours is a great addition/resource. I’m joining the SF Amateur Radio Club. I got into this from emergency training (and childhood). Thanks again. I hope you can promote this for schools, etc. –Big Stu KK6NKZ

I’ve been visiting your site for a few weeks, now. I recently downloaded
and printed out your Tech Class study guide, and carried it around with
me, reading, re-reading and basically used it as a security blanket for my
study. Just this past Saturday – I sat for my Technician Class and General Class exams. I am grateful. Your guide worked. 73! Terrylee KK6NNO

The No-Nonsense Extra Class Study Guide is exactly what I needed to focus on passing the Extra Class Amateur Radio Exam. The cost was trivial compared to the time saved. Thank you very much! Tait KE6PWP

Hi Dan. I just want to drop a quick email and tell you that I took the Tech Exam last night and passed. I used your No-Nonsense Tech study guide. Now, to start studying for the General. Thanks, Johnny KG7NIC

Just wanted to say thank you and your study guide. Took my test last Saturday at the Duke city ham Fest, and scored 85. My son kd5viq is now studying for his. Thanks, Mark KD5VCV

Next one-day Tech class, Saturday, September 27, 2014

My next One-Day Tech Class will be held on Saturday, September 27, 2014 from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, 221 E. Ann St., Ann Arbor, MI. Immediately after the class, the Technician Class license exam will be administered.

Pre-registration is required, and there is a $10 fee to take the class, but the fee will be waived for anyone under the age of 18. We often fill the class and have to put people on the waiting list. So, if you would like to take this class, send a check or money order to reserve your spot to:

Dan Romanchik, KB6NU
1325 Orkney Drive
Ann Arbor, MI 48103.

You can also pay by sending money via PayPal to

Prospective students should download the study guide IMMEDIATELY. Read through it a couple of times and take some online practice tests (URLs for practice test websites can be found in the study guide) before coming to class. Studying beforehand greatly increase the chances that you’ll pass the test.

If you have any questions, please e-mail me.

Get an FRN!

Richard, KD7BBC, recently posted this to the HamRadioHelpGroup Yahoo Group:

It consistently surprises me how many people aren’t aware that instead of giving the VE team your SSN you can get an FCC Registration Number (FRN) and give it to them.

To try to help combat this, I have written up a blog post with images to help people get an FRN number.

I *strongly* recommend that anyone planning to take an exam get an FRN before going to the exam session; it’s not that you can’t trust the VE team, it’s more that it’s not a good idea to have that kind of personal information floating around anywhere, and likely the VE team would rather not have to deal with it either.

I agree with him. Before you take the Tech test, get an FRN and give that to the VE team.

Tech instructor manual available for free download

This from the June 19 issue of  The ARRL Letter. I haven’t downloaded it yet, but there’s bound to have some useful info. You do have to be a registered instructor to download the manual.

The sixth edition of the ARRL Technician Instructor Manual — an electronic publication — now is available for free download by ARRL registered instructors. This latest edition of The ARRL Instructor’s Manual offers a course syllabus that addresses all of the topics covered by the FCC question pool that becomes effective on July 1 for the Technician license exam. The syllabus follows the topic presentation sequence in the ARRL student study guide, The ARRL Ham Radio License Manual (3rd ed).

The Instructor Manual is available in four sections for online download, and it includes PowerPoint modules to enhance classroom presentation. The Teacher’s Guide to Amateur Radio Instruction by Pete Kemp, KZ1Z, is incorporated within the Instructor Manual as well. Users may download each section, each lesson, or each PowerPoint module as needed.

Updated and edited by Ward Silver, N0AX, the new Instructor Manual has been condensed into 18 lesson modules and includes additional suggestions for demonstrations and instructional activities. Silver is the author of all three ARRL license manuals and the Q&A study guides.

The ARRL Ham Radio License Manual for students is organized to explain some basic concepts of radio science and electronics at an introductory level, providing sufficient background for students to gain a fundamental understanding of radio technology. It moves from foundation concepts to specific details that build upon those foundations.

The student and instructor materials are intended for an in-depth class series running about 20 hours in all. Topics may be selected for classroom discussion and lessons abbreviated and adapted to meet time constraints.

Resources for License Instruction also are available on the ARRL website.

2014 version of Tech study guide now ready!

I’m really excited to announce that the 2014 version of the No-Nonsense, Technician Class License Study Guide is now ready for publication! I want to thank everyone who reviewed it, including:

  • Dave, W8RIT
  • Walt, K6WRU
  • Charles, KE5AHE
  • Jerry, W4JPB
  • David, AF7BZ
  • Ron, KK4DBR
  • Frank, WA8WHP

The PDF version is available for free. For $7.99, you can purchase either a:

Operating Notes: MI QP, a coward on 2m, Nerd Nite

Nerd Nite Ann Arbor. A week ago yesterday, I spoke to a bunch of nerds at Nerd Nite Ann Arbor. I shared the limelight with two other nerds, a bonsai (which I learned is pronounced “bone-sigh”) nerd and the organizer of the Ann Arbor Mini-Maker Faire, a gathering of local nerds. The cool thing about Nerd Night is that it’s held in a bar, and it’s a lot of fun. My talk was well-received, gauging by the number of questions.

MI QSO Party. The Michigan QSO Party was held on Saturday, April 19. This year, I made 176 CW QSOs, and racked up 75 multipliers, for a total score of 26,400 points. Not a bad showing.

 2m coward. Wednesday, as I was walking downtown to a business meeting, I was talking to a friend on the local repeater about taking a video of my Tech classes. This guy had been in one of my Tech classes, and at one point, had suggested video recording them.  Since I’m going to be teaching another class a week from tomorrow, I asked if he could come down and do it, or failing that, if he had any video equipment that I could borrow.

As it turns out, he could neither record the class, nor did he have any equipment I could borrow, but our chat got me to thinking that it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to do it now anyway. The Tech question pool will be changing at the end of June, and some of what I’d cover would be obsolete in a hurry.

The talk then turned to who I might get to do the recording in September at the next class. I know one guy who does the video for all the local tech groups in town, and was thinking that perhaps I could get him to do it. I’d probably have to pay him something to do it, however. My friend then suggested that I could burn some DVDs and sell them to defray the cost of the recording and maybe even make a few bucks.

When we signed, a guy got on and said in a rather nasty tone of voice that amateur radio can’t be used for personal gain. He didn’t identify himself, and I didn’t recognize his voice. I came back and said that the rule is that you can’t be paid to operate an amateur radio station, and that my friend and I weren’t making any money by just talking about it.

Not only that, I noted that it’s against the rules to not identify your station and challenged him to do so. Of course, the coward didn’t ID. I’m still miffed by this incident.

A great idea to engage new hams

Every once in a while, you hear an idea, slap yourself on the forehead, and think, “Why didn’t I think of that?” This morning, I came across one of those ideas. Dave, W8RIT, is a friend of mine here in SE Michigan. He volunteered to review the new edition of my Tech study guide, and when he replied, he snuck this in:

On another note, I have an idea for getting new hams involved in the hobby. I think clubs should regularly hold simple VHF contests that make new hams the “stars of the show.” For example, those who have been licensed under 1-3 months (or even more recent) are worth X amount of points, and those 3 months to a year are worth a somewhat lesser amount of points, and those 6 mos. to a year are worth just a little bit less. Make it a simplex VHF contest, maybe run periodically, with the intent of making new hams feel welcome and maybe learn more about how far their signal may travel, (maybe improving it also). Keep the rules simple, simplex only, name and callsign, maybe a serial number. Just specify the date and time to run the ‘test’.

I like this idea a lot, but it needs some fleshing out. Have any of you run or participated in a contest like this? If so, how did it turn out? What rules did you use? Do any of you have other kinds of activities to engage new members and encourage them to get on the air more?

Amateur radio in the news: Boston Marathon, ham radio revival


Hams at the net control station for the 2013 Boston Marathon.

Marathon hams took on vital role after Marathon bombingsManchester native Harrison Williams, now a junior at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, was at his ham radio command post in Brookline on April 15 of last year, coordinating the “Bus Net” system for the Boston Marathon, when two explosions rocked the finish line on Boylston Street.

The revival of ham radio. In the days of Facebook and Twitter, a form of communication that has been around for more than 100 years is seeing a revival. That’s no surprise to the more than 1.5 million amateur radio operators, better known as “hams.” After all, they talk to people around the world, and even those in outer space.

How will emergency crews communicate if the ‘system’ goes down? Here is one answer. It started out as a normal day, a few ambulance runs, a kitchen fire, a routine check of an alarm going off somewhere that was caused by an employee who forgot the code for the security system, and so forth. Then about 2 p.m, came a small shake; everybody felt it, and started looking around at each other and asking “ Did you feel that?”

Wanna review my new study guide?

techclasscov_2014I have completed the PDF, Kindle (.mobi), and Nook (ePub) versions of the new edition of the Tech study guide. If you’d be interested in having an advance look at it, e-mail me, and I’ll send you a copy.

I have an ulterior motive, of course. I’d like to get your comments and see if you can find any typos before I release it to the general public. I’m only going to send it to about a dozen people, so that I can keep track of the copies that I do send out.