Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Lesson 5- Basic laws and rules

There are a large number of laws and rules relating to Amateur Radio, as explained by the FCC in Part 97. These are to keep the hobby safe, not interfere with others, encourage Hams to learn more, and make the best use out of the bands. Here's a few of the basic rules that are given.
  • The Federal Communications Center (FCC) regulates the use of Amateur Radio.
  • In order to use an amateur radio, you must have a license for such.
  • There are different levels of licenses. The lowest level, Technician, will allow you to operate any amateur frequency higher than 30 MHz, and a few select ones beyond there. General and Extra class are required to operate higher than that.
  • Getting a license requires taking a test administered by Volunteer Examiners (VEs), who are supervised by a Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC). A complete list of all VECs can be found on the FCC website. There may be a nominal fee for taking the test.
  • Two general rules for operating on the air. You must not cause harmful interference with another user or other frequency, and you must give your call sign every 10 minutes, and at the end of a contact.
  • Music is never permitted in Amateur Radio, except for incidental music in an authorized re-broadcast of a manned space mission transmission occurring on government lines.
  • If there isn't a rule about something, just follow the common amateur practices. The FCC has the final say in all such matters.
  • There exists a band plan for the most common frequencies. Essentially, this divides up  the band into what the most common uses are. For a list of the band plans, see the ARRL Band Plan page.
Just for the fun of it, I've always found it interesting that the only time that you can send music on amateur radio is for an authorized re-transmission of a manned space flight mission. Why does this rule exist? Basically, it allows Amateur Radio operators to talk to astronauts, who often have ham licenses, without worrying if there's some music on the ISS. It's not like they can go outside guys!

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