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

ke9v's avatarJeff Davis @ke9v
DATV-Express digital-ATV project #hamradio


Apple1computer's avatarDavid Larsen KK4WW @Apple1computer
RT @computerhobby: #Vintage #Computers Peek inside the Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum warehouse #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…

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 For more news and information about the FCC, please visit

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).

2014 Tech study guide: ITU, frequency allocations, modes

The ITU is a United Nations agency for information and communication technology issues.(T1B01) There are three ITU regions. North American amateur stations are located in ITU region 2.

One of the reasons that it is important to know about the ITU zones is important is that different zones often have different frequency assignments. For example, the frequency assignments for some U.S. Territories different from those in the 50 U.S. States because some U. S. Territories are located in ITU regions other than region 2. (T1B02) [97.301] Similarly, frequency assignments for U.S. stations operating maritime mobile are not the same everywhere in the world because amateur frequency assignments can vary among the three ITU regions. (T1B12) [97.301]

Because operation outside of the amateur radio bands is a serious offense, it is important to know about the frequencies and bands that amateur radio operators can use:

  • 52.525 MHz is a frequency within the 6 meter band. (T1B03)
  • The 2 meter band is the amateur band are you using when your station is transmitting on 146.52 MHz. (T1B04)
  • 443.350 MHz is the 70 cm frequency is authorized to a Technician Class license holder operating in ITU Region 2. (T1B05)
  • 1296 MHz is a 23 cm frequency is authorized to a Technician Class licensee. (T1B06)
  • 1.25 meter band is the amateur band are you using if you are transmitting on 223.50 MHz. (T1B07)

All of these choices are correct when thinking about why you should not set your transmit frequency to be exactly at the edge of an amateur band or sub-band (T1B09):

  • To allow for calibration error in the transmitter frequency display
  • So that modulation sidebands do not extend beyond the band edge
  • To allow for transmitter frequency drift

In addition to defining which frequencies are available to amateur radio operators, the FCC also defines sub-bands for various modes. For example, CW only is the emission mode permitted in the mode-restricted sub-bands at 50.0 to 50.1 MHz and 144.0 to 144.1 MHz (T1B11) [97.301(a), 97.305 (a)(c)]. The 6 meter, 2 meter, and 1.25 meter bands are the bands available to Technician Class operators that have mode-restricted sub-bands (T1B10) [97.301(e), 97.305(c)]. The use of SSB phone in amateur bands above 50 MHz is permitted in at least some portion of all the amateur bands above 50 MHz. (T2B13)

Amateur radio frequency operators share some bands with users from other services. Sometimes, amateurs are the primary users, such as the 2m band, but sometimes amateur radio operators are secondary users. One result of the fact that the amateur service is secondary in some portions of the 70 cm band is that U.S. amateurs may find non-amateur stations in the bands, and must avoid interfering with them. (T1B08) [97.303]

2014 Tech study guide: FCC rules – Amateur Radio Service

The Amateur Radio Service is a service administered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC is the agency regulates and enforces the rules for the Amateur Radio Service in the United States. (T1A02) Part 97 is the part of the FCC regulations contains the rules governing the Amateur Radio Service. (T1A03)

Part 97.1 lists five “purposes” for the existence of amateur radio. The first is recognition of its usefulness in providing emergency and public-service communications. My favorite, enhancing international goodwill is another purpose of the Amateur Radio Service rules and regulations as defined by the FCC. (T1A05)

The rules also cite the use of amateur radio as a way to help people become better technicians and operators. Advancing skills in the technical and communication phases of the radio art is a purpose of the Amateur Radio Service as stated in the FCC rules and regulations. (T1A01) Allowing a person to conduct radio experiments and to communicate with other licensed hams around the world is a permissible use of the Amateur Radio Service. (T1A12)

Part 97 also defines terms and concepts that every amateur radio operator needs to know. For example, the FCC Part 97 definition of an amateur station is a station in the Amateur Radio Service consisting of the apparatus necessary for carrying on radio communications. (T1A10)

One of the most important concepts in amateur radio is that of harmful interference. The FCC definition of harmful interference is that which seriously degrades, obstructs, or repeatedly interrupts a radio communication service operating in accordance with the Radio Regulations. (T1A04) At no time is willful interference to other amateur radio stations permitted. (T1A11)

The Radionavigation Service is one of the services are protected from interference by amateur signals under all circumstances. (T1A06) If you are operating on the 23 cm band and learn that you are interfering with a radiolocation station outside the United States, you must stop operating or take steps to eliminate the harmful interference. (T1A14)

The FCC Part 97 definition of telemetry is a one-way transmission of measurements at a distance from the measuring instrument. (T1A07) Transmitting telemetry is one of the very few examples of a one-way amateur communication. Another is sending telecommands, usually to a satellite or radio-control model. The FCC Part 97 definition of telecommand is a one-way transmission to initiate, modify or terminate functions of a device at a distance. (T1A13)

The Frequency Coordinator is the entity that recommends transmit/receive channels and other parameters for auxiliary and repeater stations. (T1A08) Amateur operators in a local or regional area whose stations are eligible to be auxiliary or repeater stations select a Frequency Coordinator. (T1A09)

Deadline to Comment on ARRL’s “Symbol Rate” Petition Looms

If you support this petition, please consider submitting a comment…Dan

ARLB034 Deadline to Comment on ARRL’s “Symbol Rate” Petition Looms

ARRL Bulletin 34 ARLB034
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT December 11, 2013
To all radio amateurs

ARLB034 Deadline to Comment on ARRL’s “Symbol Rate” Petition Looms

The deadline is December 21 to file comments on the ARRL’s “SymbolRate” Petition for Rule Making (PRM). The ARRL filed the Petitionlast month, and the FCC has put it on public notice for comment asRM-11708. The League subsequently filed an Erratum to correct an incorrect appendix included within the Petition. The Petition already has attracted more than 70 comments. The Petition can be found on the web at

The ARRL has asked the FCC to delete the symbol rate limit in §97.307(f) of its Amateur Service rules and to replace it with a maximum data emission bandwidth of 2.8 kHz on frequencies below 29.7 MHz. The ARRL contends that the changes it proposes would “relieve the Amateur Service of outdated, 1980s-era restrictions that presently hamper or preclude Amateur Radio experimentation with modern high frequency (HF) and other data transmission protocols” and “permit greater flexibility in the choice of data emissions.” Symbol rate represents the number of times per second that a change of state occurs, not to be confused with data (or bit) rate.

Current FCC rules limit digital data emissions below 28 MHz to 300 baud, and between 28.0 and 28.3 MHz to 1200 baud. The League’s petition points out that other radio services use transmission protocols in which the symbol rate exceeds the present limitations set forth in §97.307(f), while staying within the bandwidth of a typical HF single sideband channel (3 kHz).

“The symbol rate restrictions were created to suit digital modes that are no longer in favor,” the ARRL noted in its petition. “If the symbol rate is allowed to increase as technology develops and the Amateur Service utilizes new data emission types, the efficiency of amateur data communications will increase.”