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.

FCC Invokes “Red Light Rule” in K1MAN Situation

fcc-sealFrom the June 3, 2014 issue of The ARRL Letter:

The curious Amateur Radio enforcement case of Glenn Baxter, now ex-K1MAN, of Belgrade Lakes, Maine, may be at an end. The FCC dismissed Baxter’s long-standing license renewal application on June 23, invoking its “Red Light Rule,” which gives the Commission authority to turn down a pending application if the applicant has an unpaid fine on the books. His Amateur Extra class license is now shown as “canceled” in the FCC’s Universal Licensing System (ULS). Baxter was liable for a $10,000 FCC forfeiture stemming from violations over a period extending back several years.

“Anyone filing an application [who] is found to be delinquent in debt owed to the FCC and who fails to pay the debt in full or make other satisfactory arrangements in a timely manner will have their application dismissed,” said the Notice of Dismissal appended to Baxter’s ULS file. “Because you have failed to resolve this matter timely, your application is hereby dismissed.”

The FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau dismissed Baxter’s 2005 renewal application “without prejudice,” which means that if Baxter wants to be licensed again, he must file a new application — and the FCC could again invoke its Red Light Rule. Baxter’s license expired in October 2005, but FCC rules gave him the authority to continue operating while his renewal application was pending. He lost that privilege, effective June 23.

“If you are currently operating under authority provided by the Commission’s rules based on your submission of [a renewal] application, you must immediately cease operation until such time as you come into compliance with the rules,” the dismissal letter said.

The legal history in the case is extensive. In 2011, the FCC issued a Hearing Designation Order to determine, among other things, if Baxter’s Amateur Radio license should be renewed. According to the Order, “Baxter has apparently willfully and repeatedly engaged in unlawful Commission-related activities, including causing interference to ongoing communications of other amateur stations, transmitting communications in which he had a pecuniary interest, failing to file requested information pursuant to an Enforcement Bureau directive, engaging in broadcasting without communicating with any particular station, and failing to exercise control of his station.”

Read more.

FCC Okays Changes to Amateur Radio Exam Credit, Test Administration, Emission Type Rules

FCC LogoIf you ask me, it’s kind of bizarre, that the FCC will now only require lapsed Generals and Extras to pass the Tech exam to get their licenses back, but hey, who am I to judge?…Dan

ZCZC AG12
QST de W1AW
ARRL Bulletin 12 ARLB012
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT June 11, 2014
To all radio amateurs

SB QST ARL ARLB012
ARLB012 FCC Okays Changes to Amateur Radio Exam Credit, Test Administration, Emission Type Rules

In a wide-ranging Report and Order (R&O) released June 9 that takes various proceedings into consideration, the FCC has revised the Amateur Service Part 97 rules to grant credit for written examination elements 3 (General) and 4 (Amateur Extra) to holders of “expired licenses that required passage of those elements.” The FCC will require former licensees – those falling outside the 2-year grace period – to pass Element 2 (Technician) in order to be relicensed, however. The Commission declined to give examination credit to the holder of an expired Certificate of Successful Completion of Examination (CSCE) or to extend its validity to the holder’s lifetime.

The Report and Order may be found on the web in PDF format at, http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2014/db0609/FCC-14-74A1.pdf .

“Our decision to grant credit for written examination Elements 3 and 4 for expired licenses that required passage [of those elements] will provide some relief for former General, Advanced, and Amateur Extra class licensees,” the FCC said, “and is consistent with how we treat expired pre-1987 Technician class licensees who want to reenter the Amateur Service.” Pre-1987 Techs can get Element 3 credit, since the Technician and General class written examinations in that era were identical. The Commission said current rules and procedures that apply to expired pre-1987 Technician licenses “are sufficient to verify that an individual is a former licensee under our new rules.”

The Commission said that requiring applicants holding expired licenses to pass Element 2 in order to relicense “will address commenters’ concerns about lost proficiency and knowledge, because a former licensee will have to demonstrate that he or she has retained knowledge of technical and regulatory matters.” The FCC said the Element 2 requirement also would deter any attempts by someone with the same name as a former licensee to obtain a ham ticket without examination.

In 1997 the FCC, in the face of opposition, dropped a proposal that would have generally allowed examination element credit for expired amateur operator licenses. In the past, the FCC has maintained that its procedures “provide ample notification and opportunity for license renewal” and that retesting did not impose an unreasonable burden. The issue arose again in 2011, with a request from the Anchorage Volunteer Examiner Coordinator.

The FCC pulled back from its own proposal to reduce from three to two the minimum number of volunteer examiners required to proctor an Amateur Radio examination session. The ARRL, the W5YI-VEC and “a clear majority of commenters” opposed the change, the FCC said. The FCC said it found commenters’ arguments persuasive that that the use of three VEs “results in higher accuracy and lower fraud that would be the case with two VEs.” In a related matter, though, the Commission embraced the use of remote testing methods.

“Allowing VEs and VECs the option of administering examinations at locations remote from the VEs is warranted,” the FCC said. The National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators (NCVEC) in 2002 endorsed experimental use of videoconferencing technology to conduct Amateur Radio testing in remote areas of Alaska. The Anchorage VEC has long pushed for the change, citing the expense to provide Amateur Radio test sessions to Alaska residents living in remote areas.

The FCC declined to address “the mechanics” of remote testing, which, it said, “will vary from location to location and session to session.” The Commission said specific rules spelling out how to administer exam sessions remotely “could limit the flexibility of VEs and VECs.” The FCC stressed the obligation on the part of VECs and VEs “to administer examinations responsibly” applies “in full” to remote testing.

The FCC amended the rules to provide that VEs administering examinations remotely be required to grade such examinations “at the earliest practical opportunity,” rather than “immediately,” as the rule for conventional exam sessions requires.

Finally, the FCC has adopted an ARRL proposal to authorize certain Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) emissions in the Amateur Service. The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau in 2013 granted an ARRL request for a temporary blanket waiver to permit radio amateurs to transmit emissions with designators FXD, FXE, and F7E, pending resolution of the rulemaking petition.

“Commenters strongly support amendment of the rules to permit these additional emission types,” the FCC noted. “The commenters assert that the proposed rule change ‘is consistent with the basis and purpose of the Amateur Service,’” and will allow repurposing surplus mobile relay equipment from other radio services in the Amateur Service, the Commission added.

The FCC said it also will make “certain minor, non-substantive amendments to the Amateur Service rules.” It is amending Part 97 “to reflect that the Commission amended its rules to eliminate the requirement that certain Amateur Radio Service licensees pass a Morse code examination,” the FCC said in the R&O. It also said it was correcting “certain typographical or other errors” in Part 97.

The new rules become effective 30 days after their publication in The Federal Register, which is expected to happen this week.
NNNN
/EX

From my Twitter feed: digital TV, vintage computers, 10 GHz

ke9v's avatarJeff Davis @ke9v
DATV-Express digital-ATV project flip.it/GUG5j #hamradio

 

Apple1computer's avatarDavid Larsen KK4WW @Apple1computer
RT @computerhobby: #Vintage #Computers Peek inside the Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum warehouse ow.ly/vAczx #Floyd_VA

I used to work for Jon Titus, one of the founders and owners of the company that published the Bugbooks. Jon’s a ham, too. His call is KZ1G.

 

arrl's avatar

ARRL @arrl
ARRL Asks FCC to Dismiss “Fatally Flawed” Petition for Rule Making Affecting 10 GHz: The ARRL has told the FCC… tinyurl.com/n3948yc

FCC to reinstate Morse Code test

This just in…

Washington, D.C. – April 1, 2014 – Today, the Federal Communications Commission (Commission or FCC) approved Report and Order 14-987af which reinstates the Morse Code test for General Class and Amateur Extra Class licensees. “It was a big mistake eliminating the Morse Code test,” admits Dotty Dasher, the FCC’s director of examinations. “We now realize that being able to send and receive Morse Code is an essential skill for radio amateurs. As they say, it really does get through when other modes can’t.”

Not only will new applicants have to take the test, but General Class licensees who have never passed a code test will have one year to pass a 5-wpm code test. Similarly, Amateur Extra class licensees that never passed a code test will have one year to pass a 13-wpm test. Those amateurs that fail to pass the test will face revocation of their operating privileges. Materials for administering the examinations will be distributed to Volunteer Examiner Coordinators by the end of April, so that they can begin the testing on May 1, 2014.

“This isn’t going to be one of those silly multiple-choice type tests,” noted Dasher. “We’re going to be sending five-character random code groups, just like we did in the old days. And, applicants will have to prove that they can send, too, using a poorly adjusted straight key.”

Technician Class licensees will not be required to take a Morse Code test, nor will a test be required for new applicants. “We discussed it,” said Dasher, “but decided that since most Techs can’t even figure out how to program their HTs, requiring them to learn Morse Code seemed like cruel and unusual punishment.”

When asked what other actions we might see from the FCC, Dasher hinted that in the future applicants taking the written exam may be required to draw circuit diagrams, such as Colpitts oscillators and diode ring mixers, once again. “We’re beginning to think that if an applicant passes an amateur radio license exam it  should mean that he or she actually knows something,” she said.

For further information, contact James X. Shorts, Assistant Liaison to the Deputy Chief of Public Relations for the FCC at (202) 555-1212 or jim.shorts@fcc.gov. For more news and information about the FCC, please visit www.fcc.gov.

10 GHz: Use it or lose it

I’ve often said that I wish there was more commercial gear for 10 GHz or that there was more of a reason to actually use 10 GHz. I realize, of course, that this is easy for me to say, and that if I was more serious about it, I’d just go ahead and get on the band.

What brings this up is that a company called Mimosa Networks has filed a petition for rulemaking to allow them to use the 10.0 – 10.5 GHz band for wireless networking. While the petition does note the amateur use of of this band, and says that their use of it won’t interfere with our use of it, who knows what will happen once the flood of wireless users start.

Public comments are now being accepted on this petition. Go here to read the comments already submitted and to submit your own. The Mimosa website also has an interesting Web page on their petition.

2014 Tech study guide: ID, repeaters, club stations

Proper station identification is also very important. The basic rule is that an amateur station is required to transmit its assigned call sign at least every 10 minutes during and at the end of a communication. (T1F03) The only time an amateur station may transmit without identifying is when transmitting signals to control a model craft. (T1D11)

The English language is the only acceptable language for use for station identification when operating in a phone sub-band. (T1F04) Sending the call sign using CW or phone emission is the required method of call sign identification for a station transmitting phone signals. (T1F05)

For some types of operations, using a tactical call is allowed. A tactical call describes the function of the station or the location of a station. For example, a tactical call is the type of identification being used when identifying a station on the air as “Race
Headquarters.” (T1F01) When using tactical identifiers such as “Race Headquarters” during a community service net operation, your station must transmit the station’s FCC-assigned call sign at the end of each communication and every ten minutes during a communication. (T1F02)

When operating mobile or portable, or when you wish to note something about your station, you may use a self-assigned call sign indicator, such as “/3,” “mobile,” or “QRP.” All of these choices are correct when choosing formats for self-assigned indicators that are acceptable when identifying using a phone transmission. (T1F06)

  • KL7CC stroke W3
  • KL7CC slant W3
  • KL7CC slash W3

Indicators required by the FCC to be transmitted after a station call sign include /KT, /AE or /AG when using new license privileges earned by CSCE while waiting for an upgrade to a previously issued license to appear in the FCC license database. (T1F08)

Third-party communications are communications on behalf of someone who is not the station licensee. For example, if you have a friend over to your house and let him or her talk on your radio, that is a third-party communication.

These are entirely legal within the United States, but there are some restrictions when you are in contact with an amateur station in a foreign country. The FCC rules authorize the transmission of non-emergency, third party communications to any station whose government permits such communications.(T1F11) A non-licensed person is allowed to speak to a foreign station using a station under the control of a Technician Class control operator only if  the foreign station is one with which the U.S. has a third party agreement. (T1F07)

Finally—and I do mean finally—the station licensee must make the station and its records available for FCC inspection any time upon request by an FCC representative. (T1F13) They’re not going to knock on your door at 3 a.m. some morning to take a look at your shack, but one of your obligations as a licensee is to make your station and your records available when requested to do so.

2014 Tech study guide: control operator and control type

An important concept in amateur radio is the control operator. Only a person for whom an amateur operator/primary station license grant appears in the FCC database or who is authorized for alien reciprocal operation is eligible to be the control operator of an amateur station. (T1E02) The FCC presumes the station licensee to be the control operator of an amateur station, unless documentation to the contrary is in the station records. (T1E11)

An amateur station is never permitted to transmit without a control operator. (T1E01) The station licensee must designate the station control operator. (T1E03) When the control operator is not the station licensee, the control operator and the station licensee are equally responsible for the proper operation of the station. (T1E07) The control operator of the originating station is accountable should a repeater inadvertently retransmit communications that violate the FCC rules. (T1F10)

The class of operator license held by the control operator determines the transmitting privileges of an amateur station. (T1E04) At no time, under normal circumstances, may a Technician Class licensee be the control operator of a station operating in an exclusive Extra Class operator segment of the amateur bands. (T1E12)

Two related concepts are the control type and control point. An amateur station control point is the location at which the control operator function is performed. (T1E05)

Local control is the type of control being used when transmitting using a handheld radio. (T1E09) Operating the station over the Internet is an example of remote control as defined in Part 97. (T1E10) Repeater operation is an example of automatic control. (T1E08) APRS network digipeaters operate under automatic control. (T1E06)

2014 Tech study guide: authorized and prohibited transmissions

As a licensed radio amateur, it’s important to know what you can and can’t do on the air. For example, any language that is considered obscene or indecent is prohibited. (T1D06). For the most part, transmitting music is also prohibited. The only time an amateur station is authorized to transmit music is when incidental to an authorized retransmission of manned spacecraft communications (T1D04).

Transmitting any codes whose specifications are not published or well-known is prohibited. The transmission of codes or ciphers that hide the meaning of a message transmitted by an amateur station is allowed only when transmitting control commands to space stations or radio control craft (T1D03).

Amateur radio operators are only allowed to communicate with other amateur radio stations, except in specific instances. For example, in an emergency, you are allowed to communicate with stations in other radio services. Another example is during the special event called Armed Forces Day Communications Test. An FCC-licensed amateur station may exchange messages with a U.S. military station during an Armed Forces Day Communications Test (T1D02).

FCC-licensed amateur stations are prohibited from exchanging communications with any country whose administration has notified the ITU that it objects to such communications. (T1D01) Currently, there are no countries that U.S. amateurs are prohibited from contacting.

Amateur radio operators may not use their stations to make money, except in some very special circumstances. For example, the control operator of an amateur station may receive compensation for operating the station only when the communication is incidental to classroom instruction at an educational institution (T1D08). Amateur radio operators may use their stations to notify other amateurs of the availability of equipment for sale or trade, but only when the equipment is normally used in an amateur station and such activity is not conducted on a regular basis (T1D05).

All amateur communications must be station to station. That is to say, amateur radio operators may not broadcast. The term broadcasting in the FCC rules for the amateur services means transmissions intended for reception by the general public (T1D10). Only when transmitting code practice, information bulletins, or transmissions necessary to provide emergency communications may an amateur radio station engage in broadcasting. (T1D12)

Amateur stations are authorized to transmit signals related to broadcasting, program production, or news gathering, assuming no other means is available, only where such communications directly relate to the immediate safety of human life or protection of property. (T1D09).

So, what is allowed? Communications incidental to the purposes of the amateur service and remarks of a personal character are the types of international communications that are permitted by an FCC-licensed amateur station (T1C03).

2014 Tech study guide: operator licensing

Technician, General, Amateur Extra are the license classes for which new licenses are currently available from the FCC. (T1C13) You may operate a transmitter on an amateur service frequency after you pass the examination required for your first amateur radio license as soon as your name and call sign appear in the FCC’s ULS database (T1C10). Ten years is the normal term for an FCC-issued primary station/operator amateur radiolicense grant (T1C08).

When the FCC issues an amateur radio operator license, it also issues a station license. The call sign of that station consists of one or two letters, followed by a number and then one, two, or three letters. W3ABC is an example of a valid US amateur radio station call sign (T1C02).

After you pass the test, the FCC will assign you a call sign sequentially from the pool of available call signs. If you do not like this callsign, you can apply for a vanity callsign. Any licensed amateur may select a desired call sign under the vanity call sign rules. (T1C12)

The callsign you select must not only be available, it must have an appropriate format for the class of license you hold. Extra class licensees are the only ones who may hold 1×2 or 2×1 callsigns. K1XXX is, therefore, is a vanity call sign which a Technician class amateur operator might select if available. (T1C05) A Technician class amateur radio operator may not choose the callsigns KA1X or W1XX.

Two years is the grace period following the expiration of an amateur license within which the license may be renewed. (T1C09) If you don’t renew your license before it expires, or within the two-year grace period, you will have to take the test again to get a new amateur radio license. If your license has expired and is still within the allowable grace period, transmitting is not allowed until the ULS database shows that the license has been renewed (T1C11).

Amateurs that set up stations at special events, such as a community fair or fundraising event, can request a special callsign specifically for that event. A special event call sign is the type of call sign that has a single letter in both the prefix and suffix (T1C01). An example of a special event callsign is W8P.

Clubs may apply for a station license for their club station. The club may even apply for a vanity call sign. At least 4 persons are required to be members of a club for a club station license to be issued by the FCC. (T1F12) Only the person named as trustee on the club station license grant may select a vanity call sign for a club station. (T1C14)

When you get your first license, you must give the examiners a mailing address. Should you move, you must inform the FCC of your new mailing address. Revocation of the station license or suspension of the operator license may result when correspondence from the FCC is returned as undeliverable because the grantee failed to provide the correct mailing address (T1C07).

You are allowed to operate your amateur station in a foreign country when the foreign country authorizes it (T1C04). Sometimes countries have reciprocal licensing agreements, and you can operate from that country without any specific authorization. For example, I could operate my station in Germany by simply using the callsign DL/KB6NU. There are restrictions on your operating privileges, depending on the country from which you plan to operate, and you should investigate these before you get on the air.

You can also operate your station while aboard a ship in international waters. An FCC- licensed amateur station may transmit from any vessel or craft located in international waters and documented or registered in the United States, in addition to places where the FCC regulates communications (T1C06).