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  #1  
Old 01-20-2004, 03:08 PM
Croaker Croaker is offline
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If you've considered getting a ham radio license...

you may want to wait a bit. This is fresh news to me; I haven't even read it all yet. Sure to cause a stir....

-----Begin ARRL announement ----
ARRL to Propose New Entry-Level License, Code-Free HF Access
NEWINGTON, CT, Jan 19, 2004--The ARRL will ask the FCC to create a new entry-level Amateur Radio license that would include HF phone privileges without requiring a Morse code test. The League also will propose consolidating all current licensees into three classes, retaining the Element 1 Morse requirement--now 5 WPM--only for the highest class. The ARRL Board of Directors overwhelmingly approved the plan January 16 during its Annual Meeting in Windsor, Connecticut. The proposals--developed by the ARRL Executive Committee following a Board instruction last July--are in response to changes made in Article 25 of the international Radio Regulations at World Radiocommunication Conference 2003 (WRC-03). They would
continue a process of streamlining the amateur licensing structure that the FCC began more than five years ago but left unfinished in the Amateur Service license restructuring Report and Order (WT 98-143) that went into effect April 15, 2000.

"Change in the Amateur Radio Service in the US, especially license requirements and even more so when Morse is involved, has always been emotional," said ARRL First Vice President Joel Harrison, W5ZN, in presenting the Executive Committee's recommendations. "In fact, without a doubt, Morse is Amateur Radio's 'religious debate.'" The plan adopted by the Board departs only slightly from the Executive Committee's recommendations.

The "New" Novice
The entry-level license class--being called "Novice" for now--would require a 25-question written exam. It would offer limited HF CW/data and phone/image privileges on 80, 40, 15 and 10 meters as well as VHF and UHF privileges on 6 and 2 meters and on 222-225 and 430-450 MHz. Power output would be restricted to 100 W on 80, 40, and 15 meters and to 50 W on 10 meters and up, thus avoiding the need for the more complex RF safety questions in the Novice question pool.

"The Board sought to achieve balance in giving new Novice licensees the opportunity to sample a wider range of Amateur Radio activity than is available to current Technicians while retaining a motivation to upgrade," said ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ. "It was also seen as important to limit the scope of privileges so the exam would not have to include material that is inappropriate at the entry level."

As an introduction to Amateur Radio, the Novice license served
successfully for most of its 50-year history. The FCC has not issued new Novice licenses since the 2000 license restructuring, however. Under the ARRL plan, current Novice licensees--now the smallest and least active group of radio amateurs--would be grandfathered to the new entry-level class without further testing. Anticipating assertions that the new plan would "dumb down" Amateur Radio licensing, Harrison said those currently holding a ticket often perceive the level of complexity to have been greater when they were first licensed than it actually was. "Quite frankly," he said, "if you review the questions presented in our license manuals throughout the years, you will be surprised how they compare to those of today."

Technicians and Generals

The middle group of licensees--Technician, Tech Plus (Technician
with Element 1 credit) and General--would be consolidated into a new General license that no longer would require a Morse examination. Current Technician and Tech Plus license holders automatically would gain current General class privileges without additional testing. The current Element 3 General examination would remain in place for new applicants. ARRL already has proposed additional phone privileges for Generals in its "Novice refarming" petition, RM-10413, but the FCC has not yet acted on that petition.

Morse Code Testing Retained for Extra

At the top rung, the Board indicated that it saw no compelling
reason to change the Amateur Extra class license requirements. The ARRL plan calls on the FCC to combine the current Advanced and Amateur Extra class licensees into Amateur Extra, because the technical level of the exams passed by these licensees is very
similar. New applicants for Extra would have to pass a 5 WPM Morse code examination, but the written exam would stay the same. The League's plan calls for current Novice, Tech Plus and General class licensees to receive lifetime Element 1 (5 WPM Morse) credit.

"This structure provides a true entry-level license with HF
privileges to promote growth in the Amateur Service," Harrison
said. "It also simplifies the FCC database by conforming to the
current Universal Licensing System (ULS) structure and does not
mandate any modifications to it."

Sumner concurred. "The Board started out by recognizing that three license classes was the right number when looking down the road 10 or 15 years," he said. "We need a new entry-level license." "On the other hand, there's nothing particularly wrong with the existing Extra class license," he continued. "The change in the international regulations notwithstanding, the Board felt that the highest level of accomplishment in the FCC's amateur licensing structure should include basic Morse capability."

Sumner and Harrison say the current Technician entry-level ticket
provides little opportunity to experience facets of ham radio beyond repeater operation. "The quality of that experience," Sumner said, "often depends on the operator's location."

Among other advantages, Sumner said the plan would allow new Novices to participate in HF SSB emergency nets on 75 and 40 meters as well as on the top 100 kHz of 15 meters. The new license also could get another name, Sumner said. "We're trying to recapture the magic of the old Novice license, but in a manner that's appropriate for the 21st century."

Proposal Includes "Novice Refarming" Band Plan

The overall proposed ARRL license restructuring plan would more
smoothly integrate HF spectrum privileges across the three license classes and would incorporate the "Novice refarming" plan the League put forth nearly two years ago in a Petition for Rule Making (RM-10413). The FCC has not yet acted on the ARRL plan, which would alter the current HF subbands. The Novice refarming proposal would eliminate the 80, 40 and 15-meter Novice/Technician Plus CW subbands as such and reuse that spectrum in part to expand phone/image subbands on 80 and 40 meters.

The ARRL license restructuring design calls for no changes in
privileges for Extra and General class licensees on 160, 60, 30, 20, 17 or 12 meters. Novice licensees would have no access to those bands.


Proposed Phone/Image HF Subbands (Includes Novice Refarming
Proposal)
80 Meters

Extra: 3.725-4.000 MHz (gain of 25 kHz)
General: 3.800-4.000 MHz (gain of 50 kHz)
Novice: 3.900-4.000 MHz (new)
40 meters

Extra: 7.125-7.300 MHz (gain of 25 kHz)
General: 7.175-7.300 MHz (gain of 50 kHz)
Novice: 7.200-7.300 MHz (new)
15 meters


Extra: 21.200-21.450 MHz (no change)
General: 21.275-21.450 MHz (gain of 25 kHz)
Novice: 21.350-21.450 MHz (new)
10 meters

Extra and General: 28.300-29.700 MHz (no change)
Novice: 28.300-28.500 MHz (no change)
Proposed CW/Data-Exclusive HF Subbands (Includes Novice Refarming
Proposal)

80 meters

Extra: 3.500-3.725 MHz
General: 3.525-3.725 MHz
Novice: 3.550-3.700 MHz
40 meters

Extra: 7.000-7.125 MHz
General: 7.025-7.125 MHz
Novice: 7.050-7.125 MHz
15 meters

Extra: 21.000-21.200 MHz
General: 21.025-21.200 MHz
Novice: 21.050-21.200 MHz
10 meters

Extra/General: 28.000-28.300 MHz
Novice: 28.050-28.300 MHz
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  #2  
Old 01-20-2004, 05:39 PM
Dan-H Dan-H is offline
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the way I read it, if you have a tech, you'll get "promoted" to general.

The middle group of licensees--Technician, Tech Plus (Technician
with Element 1 credit) and General--would be consolidated into a new General license that no longer would require a Morse examination. Current Technician and Tech Plus license holders automatically would gain current General class privileges without additional testing. The current Element 3 General examination would remain in place for new applicants. ARRL already has proposed additional phone privileges for Generals in its "Novice refarming" petition, RM-10413, but the FCC has not yet acted on that petition.
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Old 01-20-2004, 05:58 PM
Jerry Bransford Jerry Bransford is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dan-H
the way I read it, if you have a tech, you'll get "promoted" to general.
Only if you have an older Tech license that included Element 3 as part of the test which predates the easier Element 2 only "codeless tech" license now being granted. You must pass element 3 (General written test) for the General license if you currently have an Element 2 only codeless tech license. At least this what I have heard and how I interpret what the ARRL is doing.

EDIT: Nope, I was wrong... only new applicants need to pass Element 3. Wow, it looks like it's true that existing Techs that only passed Element 2 will be upgraded to General. Hmmm, that just doesn't seem right that you don't need Element 3 knowledge to be upgraded to a General class license.

Jerry
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  #4  
Old 01-20-2004, 07:59 PM
Dan-H Dan-H is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jerry Bransford
Hmmm, that just doesn't seem right that you don't need Element 3 knowledge to be upgraded to a General class license.
agreed. I'd be happy to take a written test, but I'm to lazy to learn morse code again, and its not like riding a bike.
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Old 01-21-2004, 08:13 AM
JLemieux JLemieux is offline
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What ever happened to working hard and learning new things (i.e. Morse Code and Electronics theory) to gain something worthwhile. Not everyone has the priviledge to be a part of the Amatuer Radio community and the licensing is the only thing that keeps it that way. If it continues to become easier and easier to get a license soon you will be looking at a glorified CB. If the off road community had to pass a test of competency, respect and common sense, we would not have the image we do today.
If you want to get licensed do it now and have the pride that I have in passing the Advanced class license in 1982 when I was 17, and have the respect for the Extra class license holder that could pass the 20 wpm code test that I could not do.

John - KE6MF
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Old 01-21-2004, 11:17 AM
Jerry Bransford Jerry Bransford is offline
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I agree on most of what you say but after years of me being against dropping the CW requirement, strongly believing CW (Morse code) should be a part of the General or higher class of licenses, I'm no longer against dropping the CW portion of the test except on the Extra Class where it should definitely remain.

Let's face it, ham radio is in danger of dying out due to the Internet and people no longer having much interest in building their own equipment like there was in the days of Heathkits, of which I built over 40. The CW portion of the test is a huge hurdle that in the face of the ability to instantly communicate around the world via emails, IMs, etc., is something few have any interest in learning any more. Knowing the Morse code is a mark of distinction, obviously, and a source of pride but sheesh, again, ham radio is a dying hobby and manufacturers of ham radio equipment are struggling.

If a whole new surge of interest in ham radio happens because of easier General class upgrades that also drives more sales of big HF rigs, antennas, DX'ing, etc. due to the elimination of the CW portion of the test, then I have come to the difficult decision that it's now a good thing for ham radio.

Let's also face it that those codeless Techs aren't getting a true 'ham experience' with their little hand-talkies and 50 watt FM radios that mostly depend on repeaters. That's just not very darned exciting stuff if you get down to it. If it weren't for HF and my love of DX'ing, I wouldn't have bothered with my own recent ham radio license upgrade.
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Old 01-21-2004, 01:17 PM
JLemieux JLemieux is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jerry Bransford
If a whole new surge of interest in ham radio happens because of easier General class upgrades that also drives more sales of big HF rigs, antennas, DX'ing, etc. due to the elimination of the CW portion of the test, then I have come to the difficult decision that it's now a good thing for ham radio.
Let's also face it that those codeless Techs aren't getting a true 'ham experience' with their little hand-talkies and 50 watt FM radios that mostly depend on repeaters. That's just not very darned exciting stuff if you get down to it. If it weren't for HF and my love of DX'ing, I wouldn't have bothered with my own recent ham radio license upgrade.
I agree that a surge of interest is needed but not at the expense of the people that already paid their dues. Maybe giving a new class of license and a very small portion each low band would entice these semi interested folks into taking the steps into a more serious interest in the hobby and earning more privliges.

I must admit that I haven't been active for years, but when I was, the 2 meter radio was the cell phone of the day. That was kind of what I used it for, to keep in touch with my dad. Now that cell service is what it is, I don't have much use for it. Like you I love the low bands and that was the reason for my interest in the hobby.
Have you ever read a magazine called Nuts and Volts?
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Old 01-21-2004, 01:31 PM
Jerry Bransford Jerry Bransford is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by JLemieux
IHave you ever read a magazine called Nuts and Volts?
That's a new one on me, I haven't heard of it.
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Old 01-21-2004, 02:13 PM
William William is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by JLemieux
I agree that a surge of interest is needed but not at the expense of the people that already paid their dues.
I understand the desire to hold onto a well earned title, but at what cost?
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Old 01-21-2004, 02:43 PM
Jeff McRae Jeff McRae is offline
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I agree in principle with JLemieux, but have to concur with Jerry and William. Ham radio used to have a lot more mass than it does now, and coming from the spectrum side of the industry - if you don't use it you lose it (and sometimes even then). I can still remember when 220 was a wee bit bigger

We need people, plain and simple.
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Old 01-21-2004, 02:48 PM
William William is offline
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Please don't let it be seen that I disrepect John L's accomplishment, dedication or ability. Nor that I don't appreciate what it's like to earn something and then see the possibility that someone else can just plug and play so to speak. It's a difficult situation to balance. I had the chance to do Ham in Iceland, but the complicated process to become the operator I wanted to be weeded me out. I'm sure had I put the effort into it, that it would seem an afront to have someone simply walk in and be blessed.

I wonder if it's less advent of the internet, and more advent of cheap FRS radios.
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Old 01-21-2004, 05:54 PM
Jeff McRae Jeff McRae is offline
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William,

It started long before FRS - most likely about the time PC's became real popular, the 'net was pretty much "the biggie"

FRS sales are a tiny fraction of the spectrum (although they have proven to be more popular than GMRS)
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Old 01-22-2004, 03:04 AM
Darrell C Darrell C is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jeff McRae
William,

It started long before FRS ...
Concur with this.

There's been a gradual decline in licensed amateur radio operators over the years, primarily since the internet and e-mail have become popular. We've seen the effects, and the impact, in our area during disaster exercises. It's getting difficult to find enough radio operators to staff our various "sites" and assist.

Dropping the CW reqirement as proposed will, hopefully, increase the number of licensed individuals. IMO, the CW reqirement should remain for the Extra level.
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Old 01-22-2004, 09:49 AM
JLemieux JLemieux is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by William
Please don't let it be seen that I disrepect John L's accomplishment, dedication or ability. Nor that I don't appreciate what it's like to earn something and then see the possibility that someone else can just plug and play so to speak. It's a difficult situation to balance.
I guess it is just a matter of principle, as I remember working very hard to pass that code test. This isn't the only time someone, very politely, told me to "Get over it"
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Old 01-22-2004, 02:27 PM
Jerry Bransford Jerry Bransford is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by JLemieux
I guess it is just a matter of principle, as I remember working very hard to pass that code test.
Well, this might be a bit of a reach but when I passed my pilot's tests a dozen years ago, I didn't have to demonstrate how to prop-start my engine like pilots used to have to do. That was a neat skill but not many pilots need to hand prop an engine any more to get it started. Things get outmoded, that is for sure.
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Old 01-22-2004, 03:09 PM
Jeff McRae Jeff McRae is offline
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I understand they don't teach spin recovery anymore either. Evidentally they were losing more pilots to the training then the event
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Old 01-22-2004, 03:33 PM
Jerry Bransford Jerry Bransford is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jeff McRae
I understand they don't teach spin recovery anymore either. Evidentally they were losing more pilots to the training then the event
You're right, they don't and for exactly the reason you mentioned. I went back for spin and unusual attitude recovery training though and had a blast. The first spin is a bit scary, the rest were fun!
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Old 01-22-2004, 03:42 PM
William William is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by JLemieux
I guess it is just a matter of principle.
There are very few people in the world who hold on to those anymore, sadly.
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