It Seems to Us . . .
Remote Radio Stuff . . .
HR 1301 – Amateur Radio Parity Act . . .
K3KN – “It’s All About Fairness” . . .
2015 West Gulf Division Annual Awards . . .
Upcoming Hamfests within 250 miles _…_._
The following is from the April 2015 Edition of QST, the primary publication of the American Radio Relay League. It is the monthly Editorial in QST from ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ.
I asked for and received permission to publish this in its entirety. It dovetails nicely with the previous SCARS Newsletter posts regarding Remote Operation from several weeks ago, which I will include again in this week’s edition immediately following K1ZZ’s column below. In his column, David paraphrases in layman’s terms both identification requirements and current DXCC rules for credit. It’s a good and timely read for all of us.
It Seems to Us
(QST, April 2015, p. 9
“Operating an Amateur Radio station remotely, from a control point some distance from the RF equipment, is nothing new — but today it’s easier than ever.”
Remote Operating Radio amateurs have been controlling their transmitters remotely since at least the 1930s, first by wire and then, after the advances in technology brought about by World War II, also by radio. In some parts of the country “remote base” operation has long been popular among VHF and UHF enthusiasts. HF remote operation was relatively rare until about 20 years ago, and even then it was hardly “plug and play.”
Things have developed rapidly and dramatically over the past few years. With hardware and/or software it is now possible to control an amateur station from wherever a reasonably robust Internet connection is available. You can set up such a station of your own, collaborate with friends or through a club, or even rent a station for a period of time, much as you might rent a vacation QTH but without having to leave home. It’s a boon to business travelers, people with second homes, and those who must live where there are limited antenna possibilities. Remote operation makes it possible for many amateurs to be more active than they otherwise could be, including some who otherwise would not be on the air at all. This is all to the good, with some caveats.
Regulations governing remote operation vary from country to country; in some it may not be allowed. The FCC rules are rather permissive: the control operator must be able to ensure the immediate proper operation of the station, but the control point can be anywhere. For operation across international borders, both the operator and the station must be licensed by the administration where the transmitter is located. CEPT Recommendation T/R 61-01 does not apply: if, for example, a European amateur wants to operate a remote station that’s located in the United States, he or she must have a FCC license. Of course, the call sign used must always indicate the location of the transmitter. Operating a transmitter in one country with a call sign indicating a different one is bootlegging, plain and simple.
Legalities aside, perhaps the most controversial aspect of remote operating has to do with awards, notably the ARRL’s iconic DX Century Club. The DXCC program has always permitted remote operation as long as the transmitter and control point were located in the same DXCC entity. That condition had little practical significance until the advent of the Internet and what is sometimes referred to as “the death of distance” in telecommunications. When the Internet is the medium, the distance from point A to point B is irrelevant.
In July 2013, the ARRL Board of Directors asked its DX Advisory Committee (DXAC), which is made up of one volunteer appointee from each ARRL division plus Canada, to conduct a comprehensive review of the DXCC rules and recommend changes. When it reported a year later, the DXAC recommended that the use of remote stations be limited to no more than 200 km from the operator’s home station location. The rationale for this new restriction was that using remote stations far from one’s home creates an advantage over others, particularly on 160 and 6 meters.
The Board was not persuaded to adopt this recommendation, and instead referred the issue to its Programs & Services Committee (PSC), composed of five Directors and one Vice Director, for further study. Between the July 2014 and January 2015 Board meetings the PSC fielded input from members and debated the issue, ultimately concluding that placing such an arbitrary limit on the distance between a remote station and its control point would have more negative than positive consequences. Instead, the PSC recommended dropping the requirement that the control point and the station be in the same DXCC entity, with the location of the station for DXCC purposes continuing to be defined as the location of the transmitter, not the operator. At its January meeting, the Board adopted the PSC recommendation as well as a companion rule reminding those who strive for top positions in the DXCC listings that their peers will judge the accomplishment not just by the number, but by how it was achieved.
Reaction has run along predictable lines. If you regard DXCC as a competition, you might have viewed the DXAC recommendation as closing a loophole that technology had created. The problem with that approach is that it would prevent some from participating in the program at all, or at least to the extent they would like. For example, an amateur from the Northeast has retired to Florida and wants to continue DXing using a remote station near his old home; why shouldn’t he be able to do? Decades ago, the DXCC rules were changed to recognize that people should not have to start all over every time they move to a different part of the country. The arguments against that change were similar to some being voiced today.
The path the Board has chosen creates new possibilities. A Norwegian amateur temporarily living in southern Europe can continue to add to his original DXCC totals, as can a Canadian who winters in the US. It also creates new opportunities for those who chase DX and eliminates an unenforceable rule. As but one of many examples, last summer I heard a station in Montenegro running a nice pileup. I had visited the German operator at his second home there, so I called in to say hello. During our short chat he mentioned that he was actually at his home in Germany, operating remotely. No doubt some of those who worked him that night needed the contact for DXCC. They would have been surprised to learn that the rules didn’t allow it to count, even though the radio signals had bridged the distance between their station and Montenegro in both directions — and since we’re radio people, that is what’s important.
[signed] David Sumner, K1ZZ
Reprinted with the permission of the ARRL. Copyright ARRL.
Remote Radio Stuff
A February 24, 2015 News item from ARRL had a great write-up about 4200+ contacts made from a completely uninhabited station during the ARRL DX CW contest. N5UWY and I had a wide-ranging and eclectic discussion of the topic at work that week. One of the things which Peter noted regarding remote operation is that MANY, MANY folks are very confused about how to identify themselves when operating a station which is not theirs. For instance:
Q.R. Zedd, A5A, world’s greatest DXer and leading favorite as West Gulf Amateur of the Year, sits down at the operating position at WX5NWC, keys the mic, and pronounces in his never-to-be-mistaken-as-someone-else bass-baritone voice that he is “available on all-band, all-modes, all-frequencies”, and then un-keys.
What call does he use?
Or what if lowly little me where sitting at Golden Oaks Quarter Acre and I decide to connect remotely to WX5NWC so that I can use the highest beam in Norman to contact my buddy Michael, W7MCS, on his sailboat off the coast of Mexico? When I key the mic, what call do I use?
First off, A5A would NEVER violate FCC rules, and I do my level-best not to, so we would both identify as WX5NWC.
You as an amateur have a Station License. It has an address, and while you may operate “mobile” or “portable” with your ‘station’, but when you are operating someone else’s ‘station’, you use that station’s call. Period.
Don’t pick any nits about “But what about using a repeater?” If you don’t know, pull out your trusty copy of FCC Part 97 and look it up. Remember, you DO need a copy of Part 97 if the FCC ever stops in for a friendly visit.
The first link is about the contest and the second is about using “Skype” and “Mumble” to get audio from the remote station back to your operating position. Not long, but interesting.
[and this article discusses legislation before Congress which would make
it legally easier for many Amateurs to put up outdoor antennas, but specifically addresses issues related to Covenants, Conditions, & Restrictions, otherwise known as CC&Rs, associated with many real estate developments in the United States, Oklahoma, and Norman. Read it, and if you feel personally compelled, write a letter to our representative and Senators, and forward that to the address below for submission en masse.]
HR 1301 – Amateur Radio Parity Act
The Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015 — H.R.1301 — has been introduced in the US House of Representatives. The measure would direct the FCC to extend its rules relating to reasonable accommodation of Amateur Service communications to private land use restrictions. US Rep Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) introduced the bill on March 4 with 12 original co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle — seven Republicans and five Democrats.
HR 1301 would require the FCC to amend its Part 97 Amateur Service rules to apply the three-part test of the PRB-1 federal pre-emption policy 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. The FCC has been reluctant to extend the same legal protections to include such private land-use agreements without direction from Congress.
H.R. 1301 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.
ARRL members are urged to contact their US House members and ask them to sign on to the bill as a co-sponsor. We recommend sending the letter to your member of Congress to:
Attn: HR 1301 grassroots campaign
Newington CT 06111
via HR-1301. (ARRL)
K3KN – “It’s All About Fairness”
And now read what ARRL President, Kay Craigie, K3KN, says about HR1301:
2015 WGD Annual Awards
See the note below from the ARRL West Gulf Division Director. There are a number of folks in Oklahoma and perhaps even SCARS which would merit a nomination for this. 3 or more of you get together and nominate someone worthy of this and then say why!
It is time to start working on your submissions for the WG 2015 Divisional Awards which will be presented at the ARRL Regional Centennial Convention at HamCom in June. Nominations for 2015 Award Winners will be accepted until May 1, 2015. Nomination forms for each nominee (by category) must be supported by at least three ARRL members on the award nomination form, a minimum 150-word statement and any available supporting documentation. Other rules do apply and can be found on the nomination forms.
The Division Awards judging panel consists of four (4) ARRL members, selected by each of the Section Managers in North Texas, Oklahoma, South Texas and West Texas Sections. The Section Manager may opt to appoint his/herself to the committee. The fifth judge is selected by the Division Director and may reside anywhere within the West Gulf Division. Neither the Division Director nor the Vice Director will participate in the vote.
Upcoming Hamfests within 250 miles
Link below lists all the ARRL-related hamfests within a 250 mile drive of Norman for about the next 5 months. Lots of good ones close to Norman.
As always…Nets, Links, Other Stuff in the link at the top AND in the sidebar. Have a great week!
73 de Gary, WB5ULK …_._