The ARRL Letter
Vol. 26, No. 08
February 23, 2007
IN THIS EDITION:
* +Morse code exams now history as new ham radio rules go into effect
==>ARRL MARKS TRANSITION TO NEW AMATEUR SERVICE RULES
A new Amateur Radio Service regime now is in place. The requirement to
demonstrate Morse code proficiency to gain HF privileges officially
disappeared from the FCC's Part 97 rules February 23 at one minute past
midnight Eastern Time. At the same time, some 200,000 Technician licensees
without Morse code exam credit acquired HF privileges equivalent to those
available to Novice licensees. The League is marking the occasion with a
W1AW special event aimed at welcoming newcomers to the HF bands. The "W1AW
HF Open House" has included exam sessions under both old and new rules. ARRL
Chief Operating Officer Harold Kramer, WJ1B, points to the still-growing
number of ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (ARRL VEC) test sessions now
on the schedule across the US as evidence that the rule changes will provide
a shot in the arm to Amateur Radio.
"ARRL VEC has been extremely busy scheduling new exam sessions," Kramer
said. "We normally coordinate about 5500 sessions per year, but we've
already scheduled close to 5000 sessions and it's only the end of February."
ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, reports some 175 ARRL VEC test sessions
are on the schedule through the February 23-25 period, "and these are just
the ones that have registered with us," she added. Two dozen applicants
showed up at League Headquarters, either to sit for an exam or apply for
"I was surprised at the number of people who wanted to take the test at
12:01 AM," Somma remarked. All but two test applicants took their exams
under the new rules. "After people took their exams, some went over to W1AW
to use their new privileges," she added.
First out of the gate at the League's 12:01 AM test session was Joshua
Rozovsky, N3YAR, of Bloomfield, Connecticut. He upgraded from Tech to
Despite snowy New England weather, a few applicants traveled some distance
to take their exams. "A nice young couple that drove in from Rhode Island
joined ARRL while here," said ARRL Membership Manager Katie Breen, W1KRB.
"They thought this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take their
upgrades here at HQ."
Somma says her department now is bracing for an anticipated application
avalanche as paperwork from initial sessions shows up. She and Kramer
predict test demand will surge even further in the days and weeks ahead. Not
only has the number of test sessions increased dramatically, Kramer pointed
out, the number of applicants at each session is up as well. To keep up with
demand, ARRL VEC has hired additional help. Staffers from other HQ
departments also have been lending a hand.
March QST includes an eight-page "tearout" section "Now, New Opportunities
for Every Ham!" between pages 48 and 49.
<http://www.arrl.org/HFWelcome/Welcome.pdf>. It focuses on various topics of
interest to those gaining new HF privileges through upgrading or owing to
the new rules as well as to veteran licensees. Among other things, it covers
mentoring -- or Elmering -- newcomers, "The Top 10 Reasons to Try Morse
Code," earning ham radio operating awards by using Logbook of the World
(LoTW) and a "Welcome to the fascinating world of high frequency (HF)
radio!" by ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ.
"The FCC's decision to eliminate the Morse code examination as a licensing
requirement opens the door to HF for all amateur licensees," Sumner points
out in his remarks. Sumner also addresses the topic in his "It Seems to Us"
editorial in March QST (page 9).
"As these new HF operators join us on our favorite bands, we old timers need
to set a good example and to be patient, welcoming and positive," he writes.
"Let's all remember how little we knew when we got started, and honor those
who helped us along the way by doing the same for others."
The new rules seem to be driving greater enthusiasm for ham radio in
general. There's been an uptick in ARRL publication sales, particularly in
licensing manuals and licensing guides, and enrollment in the online ARRL
Ham Radio License Course (EC-010) <http://www.arrl.org/cce/Tech.html> is at
an all-time high. Additionally, Kramer notes, DXCC applications are up by
350 from last year, while LoTW has exceeded 121 million QSO records.
"W1AW HF Open House" operation continues through the February 24-25 weekend,
with primary activity from 10 AM until 5 PM Eastern Time (1500 until 2200
UTC) or later, depending on interest, propagation and participation. ARRL
Publications Manager Steve Ford, WB8IMY, will compete in the North American
RTTY QSO Party from W1AW.
Primary operation will be on both SSB and CW. W1AW will concentrate activity
on the Technician and General class HF subbands, using its normal
frequencies on most bands.
On SSB: 1.855, 3.990, 7.290, 14.290, 18.160, 21.390 and 28.480 MHz.
On CW: 1.8175, 3.5815, 7.0475, 14.0475, 18.0975, 21.0675 and 28.0675 MHz.
On RTTY: 3597.5, 7.095, 14.095, 21.095 and 28.095 MHz.
A Morse code requirement for Amateur Radio licensing has been on the books in the US in one form or another since 1912, and CW continues to be a favorite mode, especially in the contesting, DXing and QRP communities.
FCC said the change "eliminates an unnecessary regulatory burden that may discourage current Amateur Radio operators from advancing their skills and participating more fully in the benefits of Amateur Radio."
More than two dozen countries around the globe already have dropped their Morse code licensing requirements in the wake of World Radiocommunication Conference 2003. WRC-03 delegates agreed to let individual national administrations decide whether or not they wanted to retain a Morse code test for HF access. Cyprus appears to be the latest country to have eliminated its Morse code requirement. Others already on the list include the United Kingdom/Great Britain, Canada, and Germany.