eHam

eHam Forums => Licensing => Topic started by: KD8HMO on August 21, 2010, 06:54:20 PM



Title: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KD8HMO on August 21, 2010, 06:54:20 PM
Im still trying to figure out why we still have an extra class license. If they are going to do away with the silly 5000 level license system, then lets finish the job. I dont see the point of taking a harder exam just to get a bit more space to operate on. All ham radio needs is a beginners license and a full license. I always have thought that having so many levels was silly. All it did was cause class warfare and confusion on the bands. When a beginner is ready to get the full license, he should be made to DEMONSTRATE that he understands the rules, equipment operation, basic antenna theory and safety. The testing that they are doing now is a total joke. If we are going to have a team of volunteer examiners, they should be examining skills, not useless tests...


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: W5RB on August 21, 2010, 11:28:45 PM
Keep studying , you can get there .


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on August 22, 2010, 04:10:35 AM
Im still trying to figure out why we still have an extra class license. If they are going to do away with the silly 5000 level license system, then lets finish the job. I dont see the point of taking a harder exam just to get a bit more space to operate on.

Some more space, a chance at a shorter call, and full CEPT privileges.

All ham radio needs is a beginners license and a full license.

Then eliminate the General.

I always have thought that having so many levels was silly. All it did was cause class warfare and confusion on the bands.

I've never seen either as a result of the license structure.

When a beginner is ready to get the full license, he should be made to DEMONSTRATE that he understands the rules, equipment operation, basic antenna theory and safety. The testing that they are doing now is a total joke. If we are going to have a team of volunteer examiners, they should be examining skills, not useless tests...

I agree that the testing could be better. But how could such tests be conducted? How do you really go about testing skills?

The tests for commercial FCC licenses don't require demonstrating skills. So why should amateur licenses?

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: W5HTW on August 22, 2010, 08:03:11 AM
I agree, I find the present license structure silly.  Incentive Licensing in the late 1960s had the goal of asking amateurs to acquire more knowledge, to become better at the hobby, to learn more about electronics and operating.  "Incentive Licensing" of today offers only the "DX Carrot" of getting a few more KHZ.  That's all it does. 

I advocate a single class of amateur radio license.  The "Extra" is no longer extra.  The 'Technician" has not lived up to the word "technician' for decades.  It is a press to tallk license, as is the Extra of today.  Nothing more. 

The current structure makes no sense.  Some guy is a General and wants to work more DX so he memorizes some more questions.  He doesn't know a damn thing more.  All he knows is he can now press the PTT button legally in a few additional KHZ. 

Dumb.  Get rid of license classes.  Totally useless.   Just have "Amateur Radio License." 

Ed


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KD8HMO on August 22, 2010, 09:42:38 AM
How can one demonstrate?  Jeez, I read earlier where someone mentioned that he knew a general class ham that didnt know how many conductors there are in RG 58 coaxial cable...

If you want to move up to a full class license, you ought to be able to sit at an average radio like a ts-520s and show me how to tune it up and operate it. Tell me what a diple is and how it works. Show me on a chart what the bands are (make it simple). What are the rules for station ID on the air. Why should a radio be grounded? What are the most common Q signals, and what do they mean?

The FCC needs to make this into real-world testing. Not asking me in 6 different ways what "control operator" means...


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: W5RB on August 22, 2010, 09:50:35 AM
Here's where to send your suggestions . Anything else is just whining .

http://www.ncvec.org/feedback.php


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on August 22, 2010, 10:30:39 AM
How can one demonstrate?  Jeez, I read earlier where someone mentioned that he knew a general class ham that didnt know how many conductors there are in RG 58 coaxial cable...

That was me, telling about an encounter I had on Field Day. I still don't quite believe it, but it happened.

If you want to move up to a full class license, you ought to be able to sit at an average radio like a ts-520s and show me how to tune it up and operate it.

The TS-520S is a rig from the 1970s. Doesn't even have the WARC bands on it. Hardly an "average" set for 2010.

Tell me what a diple is and how it works. Show me on a chart what the bands are (make it simple). What are the rules for station ID on the air. Why should a radio be grounded? What are the most common Q signals, and what do they mean?

All those subjects are in the existing exams, or could be easily added.


The FCC needs to make this into real-world testing. Not asking me in 6 different ways what "control operator" means...

Why not? If a person really understands the concept of "control operator", those questions are easy.

You seem to want the kind of test where the would-be ham has to actually do something, or explain something, in front of an examiner. Something practical, not theoretical.

How about this: The would-be ham is given a "modern" rig, the manual for it, a 12 volt battery, a speaker, a tool kit (with VOM and SWR meter) and some wires and parts. S/he is instructed to hook up the rig to the battery and speaker, then measure out and build a simple antenna for a particular band.
And then put the rig on a certain frequency and call a particular station for further instructions.

Simple - just solder some connectors to the various wires, make a dipole or ground plane, plug it all in and go on the air.

I'd like to see such testing, too. But it will never happen, for two reasons:

1) There's no way of making such a test truly objective.

2) People will want disability waivers.

You can try, though. Tell NCVEC and FCC and see what they say.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AA4PB on August 22, 2010, 11:16:44 AM
How about "Novice" and "Full"? In order to qualify to take the exam for "Full" you must have been a "Novice" for at least two years and show proof of on-air activity during that time (log book, QSL cards, etc).

"Novice" would have a 200W power limit and be required to stay at least 10KHz away from the band edges. Other than that they'd have priviledges on all bands and all modes.

A "Novice" would expire after 5 years and not be renewable. You could apply for a new "Novice" after a 5 year lapse of no license.


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on August 22, 2010, 02:13:22 PM
I agree with W5HTW.  One license. 

All bands, all modes right from the start.   

Two tests: one regulatory, one technical.  Both should be at a much more stringent level than current entry level standards.  Both elements must be passed for the one license.  Pass either one and get a two year CSCE, or get them done all at once.

Lifetime licensing for new tickets.  One time vanity fee (prorated for current vanity call holders at time of the final renewal).   

I like AA4BP's call for a new Novice Class, but I don't know if it'll work out.  How about a compromise: for the first five years new licensees are explicitly restricted to 200W on phone.  Afterwards, full legal limit.  This rule would be hard to enforce but would force new operators to hone their operating skills instead of relying on brute force.   

License class has no bearing on operating courtesy or technical skill.  I agree that we need to move beyond this issue.  It's fun to see how things could pan out, however.

73, Jordan


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AA4PB on August 22, 2010, 03:13:59 PM
My thinking with the Novice is that with only one permanent license class you will always have a bunch of new "fully licensed" operators who have zero practical or on the air experience. You have that to some degree now when someone who is good at book study and taking exams walks into the exam with no license and out with an extra. You could minimize that with the proper test type but I seriously doubt that the FCC is going to permit anything other than a multiple-choice test because of the ease of administering them. The novice entry would be another way to at least partially ensure that people have some practical experience before getting full privileges.


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on August 22, 2010, 03:29:35 PM
One license. 

All bands, all modes right from the start.

The problem with that approach is that the tests must cover all that info up-front.

 
Two tests: one regulatory, one technical.  Both should be at a much more stringent level than current entry level standards.  Both elements must be passed for the one license.  Pass either one and get a two year CSCE, or get them done all at once.

I really like the idea of splitting the regulations from the technical testing. That way, someone can't pass by being really good technically but ignorant of the rules, or the reverse.

The problem with "much more stringent than the current entry level" is that it could cut down on the number of new hams by making the initial investment of study much greater. The entry testing would have to be at least equal to the General level, if not more.

One of the biggest reasons the Morse Code test was eliminated from the Tech test in 1991 and from all US amateur license tests in 2007 was the argument that it cut down on the number of people becoming hams. Raising the written test requirements for the entry level would face enormous opposition.

 Lifetime licensing for new tickets.

How do we get SKs out of the database if nobody tells FCC they've gone to the Big Shack In The Sky?

In Japan, operator licenses are "for life", and their database is full of obviously inactive operators. (Japan has four classes of license, and they differentiate between the for-life operator license, and the station license, which must be renewed annually.) Japan keeps birthdate info on all operators, and operator licenses are automatically cancelled at the age of 120. FCC has birthdate data on some but not all operators, so that wouldn't work here.

  One time vanity fee (prorated for current vanity call holders at time of the final renewal).

I agree that it doesn't make sense to have to pay a fee to renew a vanity call. I mean, does it cost FCC anything more to process a vanity call renewal?

However, if licenses are for life, the vanity call program will eventually become a moot point because most vanity calls will belong to SKs that haven't been reported. FCC is very strict about paperwork requirements for cancelling licenses due to death. (I think they've been pranked in the past.)

It seems to me that the best scheme would be 10 years renewable, same as now, but make the vanity fee only at the initial issue.

And while we're at it, how about automatic renewal with modification?   

for the first five years new licensees are explicitly restricted to 200W on phone.  Afterwards, full legal limit.

Maybe. I think it would take more than that.

The big problem I see with the one-class systems is that they either raise the entry ante too much, or lower the overall standards too much.

One of the biggest successes we ever had was the old Novice license, back in the 1950s and early 1960s. (Our numbers grew from 100,000 to 250,000 in the first dozen years after that license was created. Imagine that kind of growth today).

The key to the success of the Novice was that it was an easy-to-get license with limited privileges that focused the newcomer on the basics. Nobody had to start with Novice, but tens of thousands, if not more, did.

What the old Novice did was to steer newcomers to a few bands and modes to get started. The rig-makers and article-writers produced lots of simple, inexpensive, easy-to-use gear and articles aimed at the Novice. It was not unusual for a Novice to get started with homebrew, kit or converted surplus gear costing very little, and a simple homebrew antenna. The Novice subbands were usually busy, yet the newcomer with a simple setup could hold his/her own because everybody else had a pretty simple setup too.

We could have something similar to that again updated, of course.

IMHO, today a lot of newcomers today are overwhelmed by the wide selection of rigs, bands, modes, antennas, etc., and the high cost and complexity of new stuff.

Today we have the Tech as the default entry-level license. The problem I see is that it offers too much VHF/UHF and not enough HF/MF, and the testing covers a lot of subjects but not in any depth. Why not a more-balanced entry license?  

At the same time, the Extra is now the only license now available to new issues that gives full CEPT privileges. That tells you something about how the US license requirements compare with world standards. And remember that the ITU-R treaty includes testing standards for amateur licenses.

How about this:

1) Three license classes - Basic, Intermediate, Full. Change the names if you don't like them.

2) Basics get a few modes in a few bands, and low power. The Basic tests are very simple, and focus on the regs and basic theory. IOW, a 21st century Novice. The idea is that Basic is easy to get and offers a variety of HF, VHF and UHF modes and bands. Low power means no RF exposure questions. Basics have no vanity calls, can't be VEs or repeater control ops, etc.

3) Intermediates get more modes, bands and power, but not everything. Intermediates have some vanity calls and can be VEs for Basic and Intermediates. Intermediate tests are much more involved than Basic.

4) Fulls get the whole shebang. Equivalent to the Extra.

The purpose of the three levels is so that the steps between them aren't too big. At the same time, the added privileges match the additional testing.

5) (Optional) Require new hams to spend a certain amount of time at each level before upgrading.

----

If you REALLY want to stir things up, add this feature: All existing licenses would have their terms extended to 10 years from the enactment of the new structure. However, they would become nonrenewable. IOW, all existing hams would have 10 years to retest and earn one of the new licenses, or go off the air.

(Of course that paRT would never fly - but imagine the excitement...)

73 de Jim, N2EY (not a vanity call, btw).

 




Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on August 22, 2010, 03:35:10 PM
I seriously doubt that the FCC is going to permit anything other than a multiple-choice test because of the ease of administering them.

Not only that, but a multiple-choice test is completely objective. Each question has only one right answer, and it's right there on the paper. There's no judgement on the part of the examiners.

There's also the fact that the GROL and Commercial RadioTelegraph license tests are multiple-choice, and I doubt FCC would approve a different test method for hams.

I agree with the idea of a 21st century Novice, too.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K4DPK on August 22, 2010, 05:32:06 PM
Study harder next time.

Phil C. Sr.
k4dpk


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on August 22, 2010, 06:08:45 PM
The problem with "much more stringent than the current entry level" is that it could cut down on the number of new hams by making the initial investment of study much greater. The entry testing would have to be at least equal to the General level, if not more.

One of the biggest reasons the Morse Code test was eliminated from the Tech test in 1991 and from all US amateur license tests in 2007 was the argument that it cut down on the number of people becoming hams. Raising the written test requirements for the entry level would face enormous opposition.

Well, any re-restructuring will eventually run up against this problem.  I think that a truly comprehensive technical exam would glean questions from the old Advanced, various Extra test incarnations, and maybe even the GROL.  Inevitably such a test would be rejected because many would consider it too difficult.  Then again, the Canadian Advanced test is at that level, and I don't think there have been any challenges to the Canadian Supremes on it.  Then again, in Canada one can get all bands, all modes on HF at 250W with a Basic license.     

I agree that it doesn't make sense to have to pay a fee to renew a vanity call. I mean, does it cost FCC anything more to process a vanity call renewal?

However, if licenses are for life, the vanity call program will eventually become a moot point because most vanity calls will belong to SKs that haven't been reported. FCC is very strict about paperwork requirements for cancelling licenses due to death. (I think they've been pranked in the past.)

It seems to me that the best scheme would be 10 years renewable, same as now, but make the vanity fee only at the initial issue.

And while we're at it, how about automatic renewal with modification?

All great ideas.  It would cost the FCC nothing to do auto renewals with upgrades, address changes, etc.  The FCC might save an odd dime or two with one-time vanity fees.   

1) Three license classes - Basic, Intermediate, Full. Change the names if you don't like them.

Or even License 3, 2, and 1 respectively.  There's less chance of people crying elitism if the word "class" isn't used and the subdivisions don't have names.

2) Basics get a few modes in a few bands, and low power. The Basic tests are very simple, and focus on the regs and basic theory. IOW, a 21st century Novice. The idea is that Basic is easy to get and offers a variety of HF, VHF and UHF modes and bands. Low power means no RF exposure questions. Basics have no vanity calls, can't be VEs or repeater control ops, etc.

Maybe it'd be a good idea to add AA4PB's idea and make the Basic a 5-year license (should be renewable, though).  That might get people to upgrade a bit faster.

5) (Optional) Require new hams to spend a certain amount of time at each level before upgrading.

This is a very good idea that should be reintroduced.  I got my Tech+ at 14, spent two years there, and went from Tech to Extra in four or five months.  I passed the 20 (at the bare minimum, very close call) and then furiously memorized my way through the General, Advanced, and Extra because I wanted to get the final ticket before the code credit expired.  I didn't learn anything at the time.  Anything technical that I now know I've learned over the years. 

Maybe Basic ops should wait two years before sitting for the Intermediate.  Intermediate ops should wait one year before sitting for the Full.

If you REALLY want to stir things up, add this feature: All existing licenses would have their terms extended to 10 years from the enactment of the new structure. However, they would become nonrenewable. IOW, all existing hams would have 10 years to retest and earn one of the new licenses, or go off the air.

Wayne Green proposed just that in one of his 73 editorials.  Yeah, expect a massive mutiny.  Though, I must say that studying for the Canadian license series has been a great technical refresher for me.  'NSD called for retesting for the same reason: he felt that most hams that got their tickets long ago had either forgotten their theory or cared little about new technologies. 

73, Jordan AB2T (IS a vanity call)



Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on August 23, 2010, 04:45:06 AM
Well, any re-restructuring will eventually run up against this problem.  I think that a truly comprehensive technical exam would glean questions from the old Advanced, various Extra test incarnations, and maybe even the GROL.  Inevitably such a test would be rejected because many would consider it too difficult.  Then again, the Canadian Advanced test is at that level, and I don't think there have been any challenges to the Canadian Supremes on it.  Then again, in Canada one can get all bands, all modes on HF at 250W with a Basic license.

The question is, what level should the *entry* license be? If entry is made too difficult, you get fewer newcomers.

Full privileges is a different thing.

I'm aware of how Canada does it - including that they still have Morse Code testing. The question is, would US hams accept a license with a no-homebrew requirement?    

  It would cost the FCC nothing to do auto renewals with upgrades, address changes, etc..

There was a time when you could renew and modify at the same time regardless of where the license was in its term. I went several years without renewing because of address changes.

Or even License 3, 2, and 1 respectively.  There's less chance of people crying elitism if the word "class" isn't used and the subdivisions don't have names.

No matter what you call them, *some* people will object and cry "elitism", "barrier", etc.

It's what people do.

5) (Optional) Require new hams to spend a certain amount of time at each level before upgrading.

This is a very good idea that should be reintroduced.  I got my Tech+ at 14, spent two years there, and went from Tech to Extra in four or five months.  I passed the 20 (at the bare minimum, very close call) and then furiously memorized my way through the General, Advanced, and Extra because I wanted to get the final ticket before the code credit expired.  I didn't learn anything at the time.  Anything technical that I now know I've learned over the years. 

Maybe Basic ops should wait two years before sitting for the Intermediate.  Intermediate ops should wait one year before sitting for the Full.

The only experience requirements that ever existed in US amateur licensing since FCC has existed have been:

1 year for Class A Advanced (before 1953)

2 years for Extra, which was reduced to 1 year and then eliminated in the mid 1970s.

Reintroducing such a requirement after 30+ years may be a bit of a challenge...

If you REALLY want to stir things up, add this feature: All existing licenses would have their terms extended to 10 years from the enactment of the new structure. However, they would become nonrenewable. IOW, all existing hams would have 10 years to retest and earn one of the new licenses, or go off the air.

Wayne Green proposed just that in one of his 73 editorials.  Yeah, expect a massive mutiny.  Though, I must say that studying for the Canadian license series has been a great technical refresher for me.  'NSD called for retesting for the same reason: he felt that most hams that got their tickets long ago had either forgotten their theory or cared little about new technologies.

Ol' Wayne didn't originate that one, it's been around for a long long time. There's little chance FCC would go for it, because it would create a mountain of admin work for them.

'NSD called for retesting for the same reason: he felt that most hams that got their tickets long ago had either forgotten their theory or cared little about new technologies.

Classic pre-internet troll, that one. When you see something like "most long-time hams forgot the theory" , it's usually an admission that the person saying it is the one who has forgotten it - if, indeed, they ever knew it in the first place.

Personally I'd just take the new tests and be done with it.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: W7ETA on August 23, 2010, 01:31:21 PM
Just do your analysis of the present system, cite it's weakness and strengths.

Propose your new system, demonstrate how it incorporates the strengths of the current and strengthens the current weakness. 

You can tie up the package with a question pool.

OR

You can just complain the FCC and VECs don't live up to your expectations.

Or just invest enough time to pass the Extra test.

73
Bob


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on August 23, 2010, 05:34:50 PM
Just do your analysis of the present system, cite it's weakness and strengths.

Propose your new system, demonstrate how it incorporates the strengths of the current and strengthens the current weakness. 

You can tie up the package with a question pool.


Good points, Bob, but there's a couple more steps:

1) Figure out changes that actually have a chance of being enacted.

2) Get widespread support from the amateur community before sending anything to FCC.

Time after time, hams propose changes that FCC can't/won't enact. For example, it would be great if FCC were to take over giving the license tests again like they did before the VEC system. But there's no way that will happen unless there's money to pay for it.

Also, time after time, hams propose changes to FCC that get mass opposition in the comments. Like the ARRL "regulation by bandwidth" proposal - it had some good features and some not-so-good ones, but the vast majority of comments on it were so opposed that it was pulled from consideration.

Skip either of those steps and a proposal is just a waste of time.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K9IUQ on August 23, 2010, 06:00:27 PM
Why have ANY test???

Let us just have an application along with a $1000 fee. This would help reduce the deficit and get us more jerks not to talk to on the bands.

So it would be the CB bands all over again. We are almost there now, just listen to the crap on 75 mtrs some evening..


 ;) ;) ;)

Stan K9IUQ


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on August 23, 2010, 06:40:51 PM
Time after time, hams propose changes that FCC can't/won't enact. For example, it would be great if FCC were to take over giving the license tests again like they did before the VEC system. But there's no way that will happen unless there's money to pay for it.

EDIT: I have edited this in consideration of the good work of VE examiners that volunteer their time to bring new hams into the hobby.   

-------
A small minority of VE sessions have demonstrated fraudulent activity.  I wouldn't be surprised if the FCC considers it cheaper to discipline VE teams and cancel fraudulent licenses than pay Commission employees extra salary to examine amateur radio candidates.  I suspect that a number of VE team frauds go unpunished.  There needs to be a better system to check fraud, but I'm not certain that sending all candidates back to the FCC is possible or even desirable for hams and the Commission.

A solution for fraudulent exam sessions:

(the for-profit suggestion has been removed)

Any new candidate or ham upgrade that has gone through the the VEC system would be subject to FCC field office recall if the VE team that administered his or her exam has been suspected of fraud.  The tests would be exactly the same as those administered during a VE exam but would be supervised by a FCC employee.  A ham would have 90 days to appear at a field office.  If he or she does not appear, the license is canceled.  This policy echoes the old Conditional re-examination model. 
     
---

Personally, I don't mind going to a field office or examining under a VE.  Here in Canada it's still possible to take amateur radio exams at an Industry Canada field office.  I am thinking of doing so for the 5 wpm morse exam.  If you want to be an Accredited Examiner (AE) in Canada (same as VE here), you have to pass the 5 wpm.  If I am successful in starting a new club, I need to examine new candidates. I would rather just sit for the darned code test than have to wait for an established club to get around to offering the test through volunteers.  I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get the paperwork done and the club rolling.  I'll have to practice copying at 5 wpm since my brain isn't geared that slow anymore ;-/ 

From what I understand, Industry Canada will make every effort to set you up with an AE.  Industry Canada personnel do not like administering tests and have made this clear to the Canadian amateur radio community.  Industry Canada considers ham exams to be a nuisance and waste and would much rather let the "laity" take care of it.  Still, the still largely rural nature of Canada necessitates testing at a government office or at a volunteer examiner session.

73, Jordan
   


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AA4PB on August 23, 2010, 07:25:38 PM
"VE team fraud has been a problem since the beginning of the volunteer examination system"

I don't think I believe that. Certainly there have been cases but I think it is a pretty small percentage comparied to the total number of VE exams given. It's not a major problem - or else it covered up and not made public.


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on August 23, 2010, 08:18:33 PM
"VE team fraud has been a problem since the beginning of the volunteer examination system"

I don't think I believe that. Certainly there have been cases but I think it is a pretty small percentage comparied to the total number of VE exams given. It's not a major problem - or else it covered up and not made public.

I agree. I regret making that statement since it implies that corruption has been systemic and present from the inception of the VE program.  Both are false.  Also, I have taken pains to note that the vast majority of VE teams are ethically aboveboard.  VE team fraud instances are very small compared to the great number of ethically sound VE sessions administered yearly.  As with any testing system, fraud occurs despite every measure to maintain ethical integrity.  Even so, there should be a "higher appeal" for suspect licenses rather than the cancellation of suspected fraudulent licenses and re-examination through the VE system.  FCC field offices could be that higher appeal.  This is especially important for new hams and upgraders that do not have easy access to a VE team other than a team accused of fraud.

The delegation of ham exams to for-profit testing corporations is an extreme measure that I have deleted from my previous post.  I apologize to VEs that might be insulted by the proposal.  I do not think that VE team malfeasance is statistically significant enough to warrant the for profit model that I have previously suggested.   


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on August 24, 2010, 02:23:30 AM
A solution for fraudulent exam sessions:

(the for-profit suggestion has been removed)

Any new candidate or ham upgrade that has gone through the the VEC system would be subject to FCC field office recall if the VE team that administered his or her exam has been suspected of fraud.  The tests would be exactly the same as those administered during a VE exam but would be supervised by a FCC employee.  A ham would have 90 days to appear at a field office.  If he or she does not appear, the license is canceled.  This policy echoes the old Conditional re-examination model. 

We have that now.

FCC has always had - and exercised = the power to call in any licensee for re-examination. It's not often done, but it does happen.

My point about having FCC do the exams isn't about fraud. I think the VEC system does a very good job and that fraud is an extremely rare occurrence.

The reason I brought it up was that the VEC/QPC system, of necessity, results in published question pools. Having the actual Q&A available results in a very different test environment than the old "secret" tests.

But FCC doing all the testing and test preparation just isn't going to happen any time soon, because of the added costs compared to the VEC system, which uses all-volunteer labor.

So any proposal to go back to FCC running the exams is going noplace fast unless there's a way to pay for it.

That's just one example, there are plenty more. 

That's all I was trying to say.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AA4PB on August 24, 2010, 05:25:26 AM
The problem with FCC testing was and would be again if it is ever reimplemented, that it is often difficult for people to get to the office for testing. I was one of the lucky ones who lived only about 25 miles from the Detroit office. Still, I had to get up at the crack of dawn and fight the traffic into the city (I would guess its a lot worse now) in order to be at the office before 9AM. If you hit a little extra traffic and showed up at 9:01 then you got to do it all again next month because at 9:00 the doors were locked and testing began. If you arrived before 8:30 you waited in the car because the doors didn't open until 8:30.



Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on August 24, 2010, 10:14:30 AM

The reason I brought it up was that the VEC/QPC system, of necessity, results in published question pools. Having the actual Q&A available results in a very different test environment than the old "secret" tests.

That's all I was trying to say.

Sorry.  I read into things way too much.  I presumed that your desire to have the FCC administer exams had something to do with testing fraud.  RTFM.

As for published question pools: I doubt that there could be a return to "secret" exams.  A return would not be possible even if the FCC wrote the questions rather than merely ratified QPC composed exams.  I do not know the law well, but I suspect that any move towards unpublished question pools would eventually result in a court challenge per Freedom of Information Act.  Better, then, to place the exam pools online from inception.

The problem with FCC testing was and would be again if it is ever reimplemented, that it is often difficult for people to get to the office for testing. I was one of the lucky ones who lived only about 25 miles from the Detroit office. Still, I had to get up at the crack of dawn and fight the traffic into the city (I would guess its a lot worse now) in order to be at the office before 9AM. If you hit a little extra traffic and showed up at 9:01 then you got to do it all again next month because at 9:00 the doors were locked and testing began. If you arrived before 8:30 you waited in the car because the doors didn't open until 8:30.

Quite true -- the weekend VE system is much more convenient for the testers and examiners.  I am certain that most hams would object to FCC exams on the grounds of convenience alone.  I did take one of my VE administered exams on a weekday evening, but from what I remember that was not as common.  Still, the exam was in the early evening. 


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N0NB on August 24, 2010, 10:43:13 AM
As for published question pools: I doubt that there could be a return to "secret" exams.  A return would not be possible even if the FCC wrote the questions rather than merely ratified QPC composed exams.  I do not know the law well, but I suspect that any move towards unpublished question pools would eventually result in a court challenge per Freedom of Information Act.  Better, then, to place the exam pools online from inception.

Or, some enterprising person would just resurrect the Dick Bash method of interviewing examinees coming out of FFC office exams and building a reasonably accurate database of "secret" Q/A.  As I understand it, that is exactly what happened by the late '70s and it was learned that the FCC question pool was quite limited compared to todays QPC pool.

The only issue that I as a radio amateur have with the public question pools is that some choose to try to memorize the Q/A rather than learn the underlying material.  I have to say that going through electronics school 20 years ago that even though the instructors did not give us any questions in advance, there were no surprise questions as I was always well prepared for any exam.



Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N0NB on August 24, 2010, 10:59:28 AM
The key to the success of the Novice was that it was an easy-to-get license with limited privileges that focused the newcomer on the basics. Nobody had to start with Novice, but tens of thousands, if not more, did.

What the old Novice did was to steer newcomers to a few bands and modes to get started. The rig-makers and article-writers produced lots of simple, inexpensive, easy-to-use gear and articles aimed at the Novice. It was not unusual for a Novice to get started with homebrew, kit or converted surplus gear costing very little, and a simple homebrew antenna. The Novice subbands were usually busy, yet the newcomer with a simple setup could hold his/her own because everybody else had a pretty simple setup too.

We could have something similar to that again updated, of course.

IMHO, today a lot of newcomers today are overwhelmed by the wide selection of rigs, bands, modes, antennas, etc., and the high cost and complexity of new stuff.

Working against the concept of a new Novice license based on the old ways is that instant gratification is the order of the day now.  Gone are the days when a youngster would spend time with a kindly gent learning about amateur radio for months at a time and when not in the elmer's shack would study for the written Novice exam and practice Morse Code.  Now everything must be done yesterday and with the biggest, newest, and fanciest of gear (okay, that was a bit pessimistic).  Hopefully, I am completely wrong on this.

Other than no power limitations above 50 MHz below the 1500 Watt legal maximum, the Technician license may only need to be tweaked a bit to meet your idea of a more ideal entry level license.  Should a revamped entry license give HF phone privileges on more than the current 10m segment?  Should VHF operations be limited to 2m and 70cm FM?  Should digital operations be allowed on HF?  For someone looking to amateur radio from an emcom interest, a license that offers 100W on 2m and 70cm FM and 200 W on the current General phone bands of 75 and 40m along with digital/CW privileges on 80 and 40m, might just fit their desire for emcom participation very well.


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on August 24, 2010, 08:10:33 PM
The problem with FCC testing was and would be again if it is ever reimplemented, that it is often difficult for people to get to the office for testing.

In the bad old days the Philly FCC office started their testing at 8 AM. But they didn't lock the doors...

The problem for a lot of hams back then was that, since the exams were all on weekday mornings, it meant time off from work - and not everybody gets paid vacation time. For folks out in the boonies, travel time and expenses could be considerable.

For me, travel was simple: Less than a mile to the 69th st terminal, a quick subway ride to 3rd street, then a couple of blocks to 2nd & Chestnut. No problem at all.

The big challenge was that, as a kid in school, the only days I could go were during the summer vacation, or if there were a Monday or Wednesday that was a school holiday but not a national holiday. (No kid in his right mind back then would play hooky to go to a Federal Government office!)

IMHO the best system was what the FCC had in the late 1970s and early 1980s. There was office testing, as before, but also the FCC would send traveling examiners to hamfests and other gatherings. All that was needed was at least 10 examinees. A club could host an exam session.

But it was all swept away by budget cuts and "small government" types.

The problem is cost. Imagine what it would cost today to have FCC testing offices with paid employees running them, plus traveling examiners.

I looked into getting a Second Telegraph some time back. The private contractor closest to me is an hour or two away, and the cost was $100.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on August 24, 2010, 08:23:29 PM
Sorry.  I read into things way too much.  I presumed that your desire to have the FCC administer exams had something to do with testing fraud.  RTFM.

As for published question pools: I doubt that there could be a return to "secret" exams.  A return would not be possible even if the FCC wrote the questions rather than merely ratified QPC composed exams.  I do not know the law well, but I suspect that any move towards unpublished question pools would eventually result in a court challenge per Freedom of Information Act.  Better, then, to place the exam pools online from inception.

FCC takes fraud very seriously. They have a simple enforcement tool: retesting. If there's any question, they just call in the suspects and have them take the test again in front of FCC examiners. Sometimes the result is a pass, sometimes it's a fail, and sometimes the person doesn't show.

From what I've seen over the years, fraud in the VEC system is extremely rare. There's no real point in it anyway.

As for FOIA, it doesn't apply. FOIA predates the VE system by many years, for one thing. For another, and more important, it doesn't cover test questions. (Do government-run colleges have to make the test question public before the tests? How about the SAT and various other license exams? Of course not!)

Of course as N0NB points out, if the tests were somehow made secret again, someone would do the "Son of Bash" thing all over again.

But as I said in the previous post, the big issue is cost. How many millions would it cost to have FCC personnel create the tests and administer them?

Back in the day, there were test fees for a few years. They got as high as $9. Doesn't sound like much today but with inflation it amounts to $50-60 in today's money.

Main point is that proposing elimination of the VE system isn't going to go anywhere unless somebody is willing to fund it.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on August 24, 2010, 10:20:43 PM
As for FOIA, it doesn't apply. FOIA predates the VE system by many years, for one thing. For another, and more important, it doesn't cover test questions. (Do government-run colleges have to make the test question public before the tests? How about the SAT and various other license exams? Of course not!)

You're correct about the law, but not necessarily correct about the purpose or advantages of test information publication.  Regardless of legal consideration, the publication of test questions might not affect testing outcomes.  The merit of question publication depends on the type of exam.

The SAT is administered by a non-for-profit group, the College Board.  Previous tests are released and published by CB (there is a moving wall of a few years).  The previous SAT's examine the same conceptual skills year after year even if the annual exam questions often change in appearance.  The SAT is a biased exam that often predicts little about subsequent academic achievement (not a discussion for eham).  Anyway, perhaps some person could memorize the entire SAT question pool and regurgitate the answers.  That would be quite a difficult endeavor. While there are conceptual similarities between questions on the SAT, each question requires a basic understanding of the verbal or mathematical relationship behind the question.       

Dick Bash's end-run around the FCC proved that ham radio exams do not test experiential proficiency.  "The Final Exam" amply demonstrated that ham test questions can be memorized.  Today's ham radio question pools contain strings of ten nearly identical answers (how many ways can you ask a question about Ohm's Law?).  Get the gist of one question and get the next nine right.             

Of course as N0NB points out, if the tests were somehow made secret again, someone would do the "Son of Bash" thing all over again.

It's important to add that the FCC never publicly claimed that the ham radio exams examined experiential knowledge.  How could they?  Nevertheless, the Dick Bash phenomenon finally destroyed any misconceptions that hams were being tested on knowledge gleaned from operation, experimentation, and self-instruction.  I suspect that Bash's demolition of the secret test as a metric of experience (in part) prompted the FCC to assent to the publication of QPC pools.  Also, no law could stop Bash from bribing test-takers. 

But as I said in the previous post, the big issue is cost. How many millions would it cost to have FCC personnel create the tests and administer them?

Back in the day, there were test fees for a few years. They got as high as $9. Doesn't sound like much today but with inflation it amounts to $50-60 in today's money.

American hams are fortunate when it comes to testing fees.  What is it now, $15 a test?

Test fee in Canada is $25 for all tests administered under the AE system. 

Britain and Australia charge steep testing fees.  In Britain, the fee for one of the exams is around 35 pounds or so (approx. $50) from what I remember reading.

You are right that the FCC would necessarily have to charge higher fees.  The FCC would likely look at the fee schedules of other countries as a guide.  In that case, American hams would look forward to much steeper testing fees.  Steep testing fees are a regressive tax and a deterrent to prospective hams.  I strongly suspect that the League would block any move towards a resumption of FCC testing on fees alone.


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on August 25, 2010, 04:22:59 AM
You're correct about the law, but not necessarily correct about the purpose or advantages of test information publication.  Regardless of legal consideration, the publication of test questions might not affect testing outcomes.  The merit of question publication depends on the type of exam.

The SAT is administered by a non-for-profit group, the College Board.  Previous tests are released and published by CB (there is a moving wall of a few years).  The previous SAT's examine the same conceptual skills year after year even if the annual exam questions often change in appearance. 

The point is that there's a big difference between knowing what *may* be on the test in a general way, and knowing *exactly* what will be on the test by having access to the  Q&A.

I mentioned the SAT and other tests merely to show that FOIA doesn't apply. FCC license exam pools are public for other reasons.

Anyway, perhaps some person could memorize the entire SAT question pool and regurgitate the answers.  That would be quite a difficult endeavor. While there are conceptual similarities between questions on the SAT, each question requires a basic understanding of the verbal or mathematical relationship behind the question. 

And the FCC exam questions do not.

I don't know if the SATs still mark this way, but years ago, the marking rule for a 5 choice multiple-guess question was 5 points for right, -1 point for wrong and 0 points for blank. What that did was to make pure random guessing worthless, because you'd average out to zero. Also, the SAT is graded by percentile; getting a "perfect score" doesn't mean you got every question right, just that you were in the top percentile of those taking the same test.

By comparison, FCC license exams have only 4 choices and no penalty for guessing. The marking is absolute: get 74% or better right, and you pass.

Dick Bash's end-run around the FCC proved that ham radio exams do not test experiential proficiency.  "The Final Exam" amply demonstrated that ham test questions can be memorized.

The tests were never meant to test "experential proficiency". Their purpose is to see if a ham knows certain things.

One does not have to memorize the Q&A exactly. Rather, all that's needed is enough familiarity to get those 74%.

What Bash did was to profit from the system - for a while. Publishing the Q&A put him out of business - why pay for a book when the info can be had for free?

Perhaps the biggest revelation of his books was the fact that the FCC didn't have that big a question pool in use. That's why there was a 30 day wait to retest: if you could retest immediately, pretty soon you'd see the same test again.

The secret tests, 30 day wait, no CSCEs and other features of the old ways had an important effect on most of us: It was such a pain to re-test that we overlearned in order to be sure of passing.

Today's ham radio question pools contain strings of ten nearly identical answers (how many ways can you ask a question about Ohm's Law?).  Get the gist of one question and get the next nine right.

In the pool, yes. But not in the exam.

btw, I can think of dozens if not hundreds of ways of asking Ohm's Law questions. Just for DC:

- Basic questions where you are given two parameters and asked for the other two.

- Resistors in parallel, series, series parallel, wye and delta.

- More complex networks

- Multiple sources and switches

- Voltage dividers and bias networks, regulators and meters

- Practical problems involving wire runs, sources with internal resistance, etc.

- Thevenin and Norton equivalents.

A person who truly understands Ohm's Law would have no problem with any of them.
        

It's important to add that the FCC never publicly claimed that the ham radio exams examined experiential knowledge.  How could they?  Nevertheless, the Dick Bash phenomenon finally destroyed any misconceptions that hams were being tested on knowledge gleaned from operation, experimentation, and self-instruction.

Why does that matter?

The point of the tests was to see if a ham had the minimum necessary knowledge for the license. Experience was something else entirely. The license is the starting point, not the finish line.

To a person who knows something about radio, the technical part of the exams is pretty easy. All the pools together don't add up to one first-course in EE school. Nor should they!

The regs are amateur-radio specific, and are mostly about memorization and understanding a few concepts such as "control operator".

btw, in the bad old days the tests weren't all multiple choice. There were essay questions, draw-a-diagram questions, and show-your-work calculations too. In the latter, simply getting the right answer didn't count; you had to show how you got it. All gone before Bash's time.

In any event, the test methods aren't going to change any time soon.

I suspect that Bash's demolition of the secret test as a metric of experience (in part) prompted the FCC to assent to the publication of QPC pools.  Also, no law could stop Bash from bribing test-takers. 

The main factor was simply cost. Think how much it cost to pay Federal employee wages and benefits to do amateur license testing for free. (The test fees were eliminated years before the VE system). I suspect the cost ran into the millions to run all the field offices, traveling examiners, expenses, etc. VEs do it all for free; the VE fees go to pay postage, duplicating costs and similar.

Putting Bash out of business was just a side benefit.

A law can't prevent bribery, but it can make it a lot less successful. Would *you* take the risk? I know I wouldn't.

Besides, the tests aren't - and weren't - all that hard. Kids in grade school have passed all the tests, even back when there was code testing and 5 written exams!

There's also the question of personal honor and integrity. If one gets a license by cheating or "bending" the rules, what has really been gained? What has been lost?

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: W5ESE on August 25, 2010, 06:27:46 AM
All ham radio needs is a beginners license and a full license. I always have thought that having so many levels was silly. All it did was cause class warfare and confusion on the bands.

Base the question pool for the "Full" license on the syllabus of
topics for the European CEPT "Full" license.

It's about on a par with our Extra class license.

http://www.fediea.org/legisla/TR6102.pdf

73
Scott W5ESE





Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AA4PB on August 25, 2010, 06:37:24 AM
All ham radio needs is a beginners license and a full license. I always have thought that having so many levels was silly. All it did was cause class warfare and confusion on the bands.

That's not all it did. In some cases it spurred individuals to study, upgrade, and earn back their privlidges. That was the original intent and it wasn't a bad thing when it happend, in my opinion.


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: NI0C on August 25, 2010, 06:48:41 AM
N2EY wrote:
"btw, I can think of dozens if not hundreds of ways of asking Ohm's Law questions. Just for DC:

- Basic questions where you are given two parameters and asked for the other two.

- Resistors in parallel, series, series parallel, wye and delta.

- More complex networks

- Multiple sources and switches

- Voltage dividers and bias networks, regulators and meters

- Practical problems involving wire runs, sources with internal resistance, etc.

- Thevenin and Norton equivalents.

A person who truly understands Ohm's Law would have no problem with any of them."



Jim, this is erroneous and misleading.
 
All of these circuits problems that you mention require more than a knowledge of Ohm's Law.  A thorough knowledge of Kirchhoff's current and voltage laws are also required to solve these types of problems.  All but the simplest problems involving multiple sources require a knowledge of the Superposition Theorem or other advanced analysis techniques.  Thevenin and Norton equivalents are much more than a mere application of Ohm's Law. 

I've taught DC and AC circuits courses for engineers and engineering technicians for nearly thirty years.  Ohm's Law is only one of many topics that need to be grasped.

73,
Chuck  NI0C


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on August 25, 2010, 12:26:59 PM
A law can't prevent bribery, but it can make it a lot less successful. Would *you* take the risk? I know I wouldn't.

There's also the question of personal honor and integrity. If one gets a license by cheating or "bending" the rules, what has really been gained? What has been lost?

You are entirely correct.  Dick Bash's bribery was an flagrant example of legal provocation.  We'll never know why he wasn't prosecuted. There are a myriad of reasons why the FCC and/or the ARRL declined to bring him to court.  He was a (insert favorite strong expletive here) and a dishonorable person for what he did.  Legal considerations aside, at the very least Bash broke the ethical code that surrounded the FCC examination process.  His ethical violations, and not his possible legal infractions, shaped the testing controversy.  

The question remains as to whether Bash's scheme forced the FCC's hand.  Ironically, the VE system was already being discussed around the time that Bash began soliciting information directly from test takers.  If anything, Bash's scheme highlighted the inadequacies of the FCC test pool (as N0NB has mentioned).  The QPC removed the test creation burden from the FCC and allowed for a much broader syllabus.  All of this directly or indirectly supports your contention that the FCC wanted out of the testing business for financial and human resource reasons.  Quite true.  

Besides, the tests aren't - and weren't - all that hard. Kids in grade school have passed all the tests, even back when there was code testing and 5 written exams!

And many many teenagers.  I passed all of the code and written elements by the time I was half way through high school. I knew at least five other high school aged hams in my club that had done the same.

Granted, I passed under the VE system and the open question pool.  I did memorize the equations and a good portion of the question information.  As I have mentioned, I did not learn the material sufficiently.  Would I have learned the material better if I didn't have Gordon West answer each and every question for me?  Yes, I think so.  Was it cheating?  No, it was not: by that time what the test prep publishers did was entirely legal.  

As you note, the ham exams do not test proficiency but only those topics pertinent to the operation of a station and basic electronic theory.  Those who have memorized their way through the question pool have demonstrated a minimum proficiency perhaps not equal to the ham that learned the concepts behind the theory cold before sitting for the test.  "Memorization to the exam" was Dick Bash's legacy to the hobby.  We and other hams could go on for years weighing the effects of memorization on the quality of operators.  Yet no degree of discussion will change the fact that the testing process has changed forever.    


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on August 25, 2010, 03:05:51 PM
Jim, this is erroneous and misleading.
 
All of these circuits problems that you mention require more than a knowledge of Ohm's Law.  A thorough knowledge of Kirchhoff's current and voltage laws are also required to solve these types of problems.  All but the simplest problems involving multiple sources require a knowledge of the Superposition Theorem or other advanced analysis techniques.  Thevenin and Norton equivalents are much more than a mere application of Ohm's Law. 

MY BAD!

Yes, you are correct, Chuck. I kinda got carried away there. Thanks for the pointer.

Let me try again:

I can think of dozens if not hundreds of ways of asking Ohm's Law related questions of the kind that any amateur should be able to solve. Just for DC:

- Basic questions where you are given two parameters and asked for the other two. (the four parameters are voltage, current, resistance and power)

- Resistors in parallel, series and series parallel.

- Voltage dividers and bias networks, regulators and meters

- Practical problems involving wire runs, sources with internal resistance, etc.

A person who truly understands Ohm's Law and some related concepts would have no problem with any of them.

For example:

An RF amplifier using a screen-grid type tube obtains screen voltage from the same source as the plate voltage. The screen requires 250 volts at 8 mA, and the plate supply voltage is 600 volts. What value of resistor will give the correct voltage? How much power will it dissipate in normal operation?

A Zener diode shunt regulator uses a 12 volt diode and a dropping resistor. The unregulated supply voltage can be as high as 18 volts and the diode can dissipate 4 watts safely. What value of resistor should be used so that the diode does not exceed its maximum rating under worst-case conditions? How much power will the resistor dissipate under those conditions, and how much total power will the unregulated supply be providing?

A meter has an internal resistance of 1000 ohms and a full-scale deflection of 500 microamperes. It is desired to use the meter as a DC voltmeter with full-scale deflection of 5 volts. What value of resistor is needed for this application, and how should meter and resistor be connected?

There are lots of other examples.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on August 25, 2010, 03:49:13 PM
Dick Bash's bribery was an flagrant example of legal provocation.  We'll never know why he wasn't prosecuted.

IANAL, but I can think of a couple of reasons:

1) The higher-ups at FCC were planning to create the VE system anyway, so prosecuting Bash would be a waste of resources.

2) The law may not have been sufficiently clear on his specific actions, and the FCC lawyers may not have wanted to risk losing.

3) Bash didn't steal exams, copy them, etc. What he allegedly did was to ask people who had just taken the tests to tell him what was on them. It might be argued that it was the people who told him the info who broke the law, not Bash himself, or that their violation was more serious. (The story I heard was that he paid $1 for every question that a person could recall).

I do know that there were FCC officials who knew what he was doing and wanted to prosecute, but were not allowed to by higher-ups.

There are a myriad of reasons why the FCC and/or the ARRL declined to bring him to court. 

I don't see how ARRL could have done anything but complain to FCC. Which they did, IIRC. They also refused ads for his books. But what else could ARRL do, given that FCC was aware of what Bash was doing?

Legal considerations aside, at the very least Bash broke the ethical code that surrounded the FCC examination process.  His ethical violations, and not his possible legal infractions, shaped the testing controversy. 

IOW, it's about the spirit of the law as much if not more than the letter of the law.

But there's another side to it: His effort would have failed miserably if nobody bought his books. Yet he sold enough of them to make money at it. There were plenty of other study guides for the exams that cost less and covered the material better - without violating any ethical or legal principles. Nobody was forced to buy a Bash book. Aren't the people who knowingly bought the books also breaking the ethical code? Same for the folks who gave him information.

Weren't they just as guilty, if not more so?

The question remains as to whether Bash's scheme forced the FCC's hand.

There's no question in my mind at all that it was all about saving money and resources. Bash was just a side benefit, not the main issue at all - IMHO.

Remember that in the early 1980s the Reagan Administration was pushing the ideas of "small government" and "deregulation" really, really hard. The method was budget cuts, particularly for entities like FCC where the effects wouldn't be immediately obvious. Not only was testing "privatized" for both amateur and commercial licenses, but enforcement was "de-funded".

This was also when the license term was doubled, from 5 years to 10. The report I saw was that doing so would save about 1 person-year of administrative work. (Remember that this was years before online renewal, when the FCC was still using a 1960s era computer system. Every license action involved sending paper forms to FCC, and all the handling that entailed at their end).

Besides, the tests aren't - and weren't - all that hard. Kids in grade school have passed all the tests, even back when there was code testing and 5 written exams!

And many many teenagers.  I passed all of the code and written elements by the time I was half way through high school. I knew at least five other high school aged hams in my club that had done the same.

Granted, I passed under the VE system and the open question pool.  I did memorize the equations and a good portion of the question information.  As I have mentioned, I did not learn the material sufficiently.  Would I have learned the material better if I didn't have Gordon West answer each and every question for me?  Yes, I think so.  Was it cheating?  No, it was not: by that time what the test prep publishers did was entirely legal.

You played the game according to the rules at the time. Nothing wrong with that.

But I maintain that even in the bad old days the tests weren't all that difficult *if* a person knew the material - and the material wasn't all that advanced, really. Not EE level by any means. I passed Advanced at 14 (1968) and Extra at 16 (1970), so those observations are from personal experience at an FCC office.

And I was no prodigy nor record-setter.

For me, the real proof is the case of W3OVV - who is now sadly SK.

Back in 1948, W3OVV passed the Class B exam on the first try. It was administered by the FCC examiner here in Philadelphia. (The Class B would become the General in 1951.)

Back then there was no Novice or Technician license, and the Class B required sending and receiving Morse Code at 13 wpm, and a written test of about 50 questions.

The Morse Code sending test was with a straight key, and consisted of sending until the FCC examiner was satisfied you knew how.

The Morse Code receiving test required at least one minute of solid correct legible copy out of 5, with no time allowed to go back and fix mistakes or blanks. "Legible" meant "the examiner could read it easily".

The written exam included essay questions, diagram drawing, show-your-work calculation questions, and a few multiple choice questions. A "blue book" type exam.

In those days there were no CSCEs. To earn the license, one had to pass all the required tests at the same session, and if you failed anything, it was a minimum 30 day wait before you could try again.

W3OVV was nine years old when she passed the Class B. That's third grade IIRC. 

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: NI0C on August 25, 2010, 05:50:26 PM
N2EY wrote:
"A person who truly understands Ohm's Law and some related concepts would have no problem with any of them."


Those "related concepts" would include Kirchhoff's Laws.  Ohm's Law, by itself is insufficient to solve the three specific problems you made up.   Too many people think that Ohm's Law is all anyone needs to know about electricity.

73,
Chuck  NI0C


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N0NB on August 26, 2010, 07:47:33 PM
Legal considerations aside, at the very least Bash broke the ethical code that surrounded the FCC examination process.  His ethical violations, and not his possible legal infractions, shaped the testing controversy. 

IOW, it's about the spirit of the law as much if not more than the letter of the law.

But there's another side to it: His effort would have failed miserably if nobody bought his books. Yet he sold enough of them to make money at it. There were plenty of other study guides for the exams that cost less and covered the material better - without violating any ethical or legal principles. Nobody was forced to buy a Bash book. Aren't the people who knowingly bought the books also breaking the ethical code? Same for the folks who gave him information.

Weren't they just as guilty, if not more so?

As a side bar I think it would be interesting to know how many of those who have cried loudest over the past decade since restructuring used a Bash book to get their license in the late '70s.  Hopefully not many but I'd wager there were a few.

I only learned about the whole Bash deal in hindsight as by the time I found amateur radio (early 1981) exam availability was shrinking and there was word in print about the coming VE system.  I had a dickens of a time learning the code on my own and also put things off until the VE system was getting underway. 

In fact the Novice was the first class to get revamped with published questions and answers in mid 1983 and I sought out W0GCJ (SK) to give me the Novice exam in October '83 all in one sitting.  Prior to that the examiner would give the code test, sign the 610 form (remember those?) and mail it to FCC who would then send a written exam back for the applicant to take after which the examiner would mail that back to FCC for grading.  If all went well the applicant would have a license after a month or so (I'm guessing).  In my case it took about three weeks.  As I recall Ernie got a pre-made exam from ARRL for me that included one question from each of 20 sections which had 10 possible questions each (200 question pool).

As I recall VE exams began to take place in late 1984 around Kansas and I took my Tech in Topeka on a darned cold Saturday morning in January!  One had to preregister about a month in advance and pay in advance.  No walk-ins as I recall that would be allowed later and eventually the 30 day retake period was shortened and then eliminated altogether.  But I digress down memory lane...


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on August 27, 2010, 03:55:56 AM
N2EY wrote:
"A person who truly understands Ohm's Law and some related concepts would have no problem with any of them."


Those "related concepts" would include Kirchhoff's Laws.  Ohm's Law, by itself is insufficient to solve the three specific problems you made up.   Too many people think that Ohm's Law is all anyone needs to know about electricity.


I certainly agree with that!

But the point I was trying to make wasn't that Ohm's Law is all that a ham needs to know. Rather it was that there are lots of ways to test if someone knows it, and some related (and important) concepts. And that all hams should be able to solve simple problems like the ones I wrote up.

btw, I could solve all of the three problems I stated before I got to high school. But I never heard of KVL or KCL until I got to college. I knew the concepts, but didn't know they had formal names. 

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: W5ESE on August 27, 2010, 06:13:32 AM
As a side bar I think it would be interesting to know how many of those who have cried loudest over the past decade since restructuring used a Bash book to get their license in the late '70s.  Hopefully not many but I'd wager there were a few.

Actually, zero hams used Dick Bash's book to get licensed in the 1970's. Dick's 'The Final Exam' appeared in 1980, according to 'The Wayback Machine':

http://www.qsl.net/ecara/wayback/page34.html

This appears to be confirmed by searching for copies of 'The Final Exam' for sale on Amazon.com.

On the whole; the Bash book era was pretty short. On Amazon, the earliest copies of
'The Final Exam' listed are from 1980, and the last are 1982.

73
Scott W5ESE









Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KB1SF on August 27, 2010, 09:16:25 AM
I'm still trying to figure out why we still have an extra class license. If they are going to do away with the silly 5000 level license system, then lets finish the job. I don't see the point of taking a harder exam just to get a bit more space to operate on. All ham radio needs is a beginners license and a full license. I always have thought that having so many levels was silly. All it did was cause class warfare and confusion on the bands.

Richard, I couldn't agree more.  

But, the "easiness" or "hardness" of our current exams isn't really the issue.  

Rather, it's the fact that the relevance of our license examinations (particularly that for the Extra Class license) to the specific (additional) privileges they grant are now clearly out of whack with both the ITU intent for our Service as well as current equal access laws in the United States.  

First of all, there is also absolutely NO doubt that our current licensing system was designed for a time when many (if not most) people built their own equipment and when the US was faced with a huge "technology gap" with the Russians.

Could it be that when the US Government made it national policy to throw millions of dollars in tax money at any "technical education" institution that they could lay their hands on in an effort to "catch up" with our enemy back then, Amateur Radio became a perfect vehicle to carry out that national policy? Hence their addition and/or perpetuation of words like "expansion of a pool of trained technicians and electronics experts" into our Part 97.1 as a basis and purpose for our Service in the United States.

However, by their doing so, I remain convinced that our Government very clearly violated both the spirit and intent of the ITU's "no pecuniary interest" clause as spelled out in the basis and purpose of our Service in the ITU rules

Like you, and in similar treads in this and other forums, I've continually asked those who would maintain our licensing system in its present form indefinitely to explain what the fundamental OPERATIONAL differences are between the privileges granted to a General Class licensee and those of an Extra Class licensee in our Service in the United States of America.  

So far, those requests have all been met with obfuscation, changed subjects, indignant (and largely off-topic) reply questions, and failing that, stony silence.  

Could it be that (gasp!) there ARE no fundamental operational differences between the two?  Could it be that our Extra Class license IS no longer legally justified under the ITU rules as well as today's ever-more stringent, US federal equal access statues?

That is (and as you have so eloquently noted) by what reasonable standard can it now be deemed a regulatory neccessity that applicants for a full featured (i.e. "Extra Class") license in our Service absolutely NEED to know the contents of a 600 page license manual in order to successfully pass yet ANOTHER (this time 50-question) exam just to operate in the last few KHz of our HF bands and/or qualify for a so-called "exclusive" call sign?

I can't help but compare and contrast such needless regulatory overkill with the international (ITU) definition of our Service.  That definition simply states that ours is to be: "A radiocommunication service for the purpose of self-training, intercommunication and technical investigations carried out by amateurs, that is, by duly authorized persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest."

Clearly, the drafters of that ITU definition (as reflected in the ITU rules and guidelines they later wrote to support it) NEVER intended (nor, in my opinion, do they even allow for!) our Service's licensing systems to be used as a forced education tool for a government to ram higher learning down people's throats (or up other orifices of their bodies) so as to fulfill some arcane social or economic policy goal.  

Indeed, in one of those policy goals outlined in the "Basis and Purpose" for our Service in the United States (FCC Part 97.1 (d)) STILL very clearly states that a basis and purpose of our Service is for the "Expansion of the existing reservoir within the amateur radio service of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts."  

Would someone please explain where the "interested in radio technique solely with a PERSONAL aim" is in any of THAT regulatory nonsense?  

Indeed, such clearly delineated eyewash in Part 97.1 now begs the obvious question as to precisely whom do the benefits of an "expansion of the existing reservoir of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts" as outlined in Part 97.1 (d) accrue?  

Do they accrue to us as individuals?  Or, do they accrue (as I believe) to the US Government by fulfilling their own social and economic policy goals?  Indeed, isn't the perpetuation of all that "reservoir building" in the US Government's "pecuniary interest"?  And, if so, doesn't that activity ALSO now run completely counter to the "non pecuniary interest" ITU definition of our Service?  

I contend that such needless eyewash (along with most everything else contained in Part 97.1) injected a whole series of blatantly self-serving, US GOVERNMENT economic and social policy goals into our Service.  

I also contend that activity was (and remains) patently illegal under ITU rules that govern our Service internationally.  That's because such regulatory malfeasance fundamentally alters the basic intent of our Service as promulgated by our international regulators.  The latter's clear intent was simply for governments to create and administer a radio service where we "amateurs" could practice and experiment with "radio technique solely with a personal aim"…that is, for precisely NO OTHER PURPOSE than for our own personal enlightenment and enjoyment…and NOT to fulfill some stupid political or economic policy goal.  

So, once again, as I see it, the underlying legal flaw in our current licensing system (which Jimmie and his like thinking buddies posting here seem to want to continually ignore) is that, back in the 1950s and 1960s, our ARRL (along with their willing stooges in the FCC at the time) fundamentally altered the international basis and purpose of the licensing system for our Service from a simple safety and operational VERIFICATION system into a vast pseudo-EDUCATIONAL system (their so-called "incentive licensing" nonsense) to not only preserve, protect and defend their own "Good Old Boy's Radio Club", but also to crank out hoards of people just like themselves…..budding PROFESSIONAL RF engineers.  

What's more, this wholesale hijacking of our "amateur" radio service (and the then FCC's (now clearly failed) attempts at the behest of the ARRL to turn us all into "professionals") was all accomplished in order to fulfill their own (and, by extension, the ARRL's) economic policy goals.  In the case of the ARRL, that meant creating a long-term potential to sell millions of dollars' worth of "upgrade" materials so as to help keep their tax-free, "non profit" coffers filled to the brim.  

Sadly, the ARRL (and their willing stooges in the FCC at the time) could do all that and get away with it because there were absolutely NO federal equal access statutes in the US Code at that point to stop them.

But, as I have clearly shown in other posts in other threads (and much to the eternal irritation of our 1950s and 60s-era "incentive licensing forever" zealots) those days have now LONG since gone the way of the dinosaur.

That's because, despite some people's frantic attempts to continue justifying the FCC's blatant regulatory overreach from that bygone age, the 1950s-era, ARRL/FCC brainchild they called "incentive licensing" in our Service is now falling further and further out of compliance a whole host of other, equally binding, 1990s-era US federal equal access laws.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I'm absolutely NOT advocating that newcomers to our Service should not strive to learn all they can or take advantage of the lifetime of wonderful technical and other training opportunities it affords.  

I'm simply saying that it has NEVER been the FCC's job (as a US Government REGULATORY agency) to force "education" down people's throats BEYOND verifying those knowledges and skills that are MINIMALLY required to assure safe and courteous operation on our bands.  

What's more, as our Service provides us all with a lifetime of opportunities FOR such learning, I find it patently absurd that our FCC continues putting the "final exams" at the beginning of that lifetime of "self-training" rather than at the end.  By continually doing so, their actions send a very clear message that "we don't want YOUR ("technically uneducated") kind here so all you CBers and uneducated "riff raff" need not apply".

Sadly, all the so-called "incentive" licensing system for our Service has ever really accomplished over the years has been to perpetuate a most hateful idea at its very core. That idea is exclusion: the "othering", if you like, of the vast unwashed masses who have yet to successfully complete a US Government-proscribed series of largely baseless (and therefore ever more systemically discriminatory) Extra Class "hazing rituals" in order to be deemed "real hams" with full privileges in our Service.

And, sadly, there are still FAR too many "crusty curmudgeons" remaining in our ranks who would love dearly to KEEP that systemically discriminatory "liturgy" of our licensing system EXACTLY the same for our Service as it was for them "way back when".  To such persons, Ham Radio has now become akin to a fundamentalist religion, complete with all of its ever-more fanatical (spelled "intolerant") sacred rituals and other such pious nonsense…including, I might add…deliberately refraining from "elmering" newcomers when they clearly could benefit from their collective learning.  

Instead, and as evidenced by their often boorish comments about newcomers posted in these forums, some of our resident "techno-bigots" would apparently much prefer to keep heaping oceans of odium on our newcomers rather than get up off their finals to extend a helping hand of friendship.

Indeed, for the last 50 years, I believe it is PRECISELY such systemically discriminatory snobbery …enshrined in our licensing system as well as in the upturned noses that our so-called "incentive" licensing system perpetuates…that has kept thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of otherwise well qualified people out of our Service.  Today, amateur radio's very survival is becoming ever more questionable as we "old farts" continue to die off in ever-increasing numbers and potential youthful newcomers to our Service continue to look elsewhere to exercise their budding technical and communication talents.

In fact, I firmly believe it is an extreme cultural distaste for ALL such regulated bigotry and baseless "hazing rituals" that today's youth STILL see in the licensing and regulatory systems for our Service that are one of the principle reasons why amateur radio in the United States has remained so out of touch with today's youth.  That's probably also why, up until very recently at least, we've remained consistently unable to attract large numbers of them.

Clearly, the days of such caste-like snobbery being enabled, underwritten and then indefinitely perpetuated in the licensing and regulatory systems of federal agencies in the United States are now FINALLY drawing to a close.  This is happening DESPITE the ever more frantic attempts by our fundamentalist zealots to keep all that institutionalized bigotry alive and well in our Service.  Thankfully, it is also painfully apparent (by their recent actions to continue deregulating our Service in the USA) that today's FCC is no longer listening to such regulatory Neanderthals.

Indeed, and as I've noted in other threads, the plan for the eventual demise of "incentive licensing" is now already well underway.  The latest chapter in that plan was the FCC's complete elimination of our absolutely ARCANE Morse testing requirement back in 2007.

The good news is that, much to the obvious dismay of our resident regulatory Neanderthals, there is a whole boatload MORE deregulation of our Service yet to come.  And the even BETTER news is that (much to their everlasting annoyance) our ever-shrinking cadre of resident techno-bigots will continue to remain absolutely powerless to stop any of it.

The bad news, however, is that it may very well take another generation or two before such fundamentalist regulatory zealots completely disappear from the ranks of our Service…along with all the reams of licensing and regulatory overkill that STILL underwrites their ever-more out-of-touch, 1950s-era, elitist blather.  

Indeed, as Professor Doctor Max Planck, winner of the Nobel Prize for physics and one of the greatest physicists of the early 20th Century once said, “Innovation rarely makes its way by gradually winning over and converting its opponents.  What does happen is that its opponents gradually die out, and the growing generation is familiarized with the innovative ideas from the beginning.”

73,

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: W7KB on August 27, 2010, 08:21:07 PM
There used to be 5 Amateur license classes with 5 different exams:Novice,Technician(orTech.Plus),General,Advanced,and Amateur Extra.There was also three CW exams:5/13/20 WPM.Be glad you did not have to qualify for all of them.I like the additional band/mode/frequency privileges upon the upgrades granted.I like my 1x2 call also.Those are my reasons for upgrading.One can choose to do this or not.One can also renew or allow their license to expire.My guess is that you will either upgrade or renew your license before you allow it to expire.No matter what license level you hold,have fun and enjoy the privilege and responsibility of holding it.73.Dennis W7KB.


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on August 27, 2010, 09:03:58 PM
I'm still trying to figure out why we still have an extra class license. If they are going to do away with the silly 5000 level license system, then lets finish the job. I don't see the point of taking a harder exam just to get a bit more space to operate on. All ham radio needs is a beginners license and a full license. I always have thought that having so many levels was silly. All it did was cause class warfare and confusion on the bands.

Richard, I couldn't agree more.  

But, the "easiness" or "hardness" of our current exams isn't really the issue.

Oh, I believe it IS the issue, certainly so on this forum and every other venue for USA amateur radio "discussion."

The REAL issue, as witness the wording and tone of the rationalizers defending the current (of a half century ago) system, is the old "I AM BETTER THAN YOU" braggadoccio.

MOST of the respondents on this topic are already Extra class.  They want to KEEP all the rank, status, privilege they feel is "theirs" (because they "earned" it according to them).  They fear a loss of such rank, status, privilege is the present class-distinction system is removed. 

Quote
First of all, there is also absolutely NO doubt that our current licensing system was designed for a time when many (if not most) people built their own equipment and when the US was faced with a huge "technology gap" with the Russians.
I don't agree with that assessment.  Having lived through that "technology gap" as a working adult, as well as through the whole MAD era of the Cold War, I see it more as a Press-fueled hysteria with plenty of flag-waving "patriotism" bannered by all sorts of special-interest groups to any journalist who would listen/photograph/video-record.  Politicians who NEEDED the press exposure would espouse the same jingoistic phrases and sponsor bills in Congress to prove their "feelings."

There was never any "technology gap" per se, only the odd sort of sports-contest feeling reported on "who was first?" during the Cold War.  The USA turned the tide against the USSR during the Berlin Blockade of 1948.  The USA and allies kept North Korea from taking over South Korea in 1950 to 1953 despite millions in manpower aid from China helping North Korea.  The USA invented the first transistor in the late 1940s and Claude Elwood Shannon developed his worldwide-accepted defining laws of communications relating data rate, bandwidth, and random noise in that same year.  In the USA.  The electronics industry was already undwerway on research into man-made crystal growth that would produce huge ingots of quartz for inexpensive quartz crystal units...and the same process would enable growth of pure germanium and silicon for the solid-state era.  The systems to enable civil aviation to communicate and navigate were already in test at the end of the 1940s and would be adopted internationally by 1955.  At White Sands, NM, the fledgling NASA was already carefully testing rocketry, largely from captured V2 rockets "liberated" from Germany in WWII.  Moonbounce communications was already proven by the U.S.Army in 1946.  A young boffin from the UK named Clarke had proved that communications satellite relay could eliminate dependency on the ionosphere for worldwide real-time communications, all in a large article in "Wireless World" magazine well before any country had put any rocket into an orbit.  The USA electronics industry was burgeoning with microwave system design for radar and communications, leading the way internationally in components, including Traveling Wave Tubes essential for comm-sat transponder transmittes.  Kept under wraps, the "sound barrier" was successfully broken in 1947 at Edwards AFB.  The USA designed and built U-2 overflew the USSR for years, forcing the russkies to develop new ground-to-air missles to reach them. Jack Kilby, a new hire at Texas Instruments, made the first integrated circuit during a company-wide vacation closing period (new hires weren't eligible).  The technology and production of transistors had already begun at TI and elsewhere when Kilby did his thing.

Now, against all of THAT, AMATEURS were "supposed to innovate and advance any state of the radio art?!?  By "upgrading" to Extra class largely through high-rate morse code testing at a time when morse code was already being downsized as a communications medium?  I'm sorry, but all of that is political jingoism, sloganeering, and sham patriotism on the part of certain special-interest groups and a few in the USA still stuck in glories of WWII victory.

Quote
Could it be that when the US Government made it national policy to throw millions of dollars in tax money at any "technical education" institution that they could lay their hands on in an effort to "catch up" with our enemy back then, Amateur Radio became a perfect vehicle to carry out that national policy? Hence their addition and/or perpetuation of words like "expansion of a pool of trained technicians and electronics experts" into our Part 97.1 as a basis and purpose for our Service in the United States.
More political jingoism and poli-speak, Keith.  As a professional communicator in the US Army from 1952 onwards, activly doing that on HF (and VHF and UHF and microwaves), I saw absolutely NO "need" for such a "pool" at the time.  The US military could turn them out in high numbers and the messages would get through.  They did.

Quote
Like you, and in similar treads in this and other forums, I've continually asked those who would maintain our licensing system in its present form indefinitely to explain what the fundamental OPERATIONAL differences are between the privileges granted to a General Class licensee and those of an Extra Class licensee in our Service in the United States of America.
Keith, that's asking royalty to abdicate in favor of a democratic-principled republic.  They will LOSE all of their rank, status, and privilege acquired under the old system as a NOBLE.  :D

Quote
What's more, this wholesale hijacking of our "amateur" radio service (and the then FCC's (now clearly failed) attempts at the behest of the ARRL to turn us all into "professionals") was all accomplished in order to fulfill their own (and, by extension, the ARRL's) economic policy goals.  In the case of the ARRL, that meant creating a long-term potential to sell millions of dollars' worth of "upgrade" materials so as to help keep their tax-free, "non profit" coffers filled to the brim.
It was a pure business decision, Keith.  If the majority of income is from publications and resale of goods, then that takes precedence in decision-making. 

Quote
Sadly, all the so-called "incentive" licensing system for our Service has ever really accomplished over the years has been to perpetuate a most hateful idea at its very core. That idea is exclusion: the "othering", if you like, of the vast unwashed masses who have yet to successfully complete a US Government-proscribed series of largely baseless (and therefore ever more systemically discriminatory) Extra Class "hazing rituals" in order to be deemed "real hams" with full privileges in our Service.
Some of us will never be "real hams" since we did not take any code test...and "everyone knows" (ho ho) that one MUST know code to operate on HF.  :D   :D   :D

Quote
Instead, and as evidenced by their often boorish comments about newcomers posted in these forums, some of our resident "techno-bigots" would apparently much prefer to keep heaping oceans of odium on our newcomers rather than get up off their finals to extend a helping hand of friendship.
Keith, it is sort of a "nobless oblige" act of theirs.  THEY establish the terms and us "newcomers" must meet them.  :D

Quote
Indeed, for the last 50 years, I believe it is PRECISELY such systemically discriminatory snobbery …enshrined in our licensing system as well as in the upturned noses that our so-called "incentive" licensing system perpetuates…that has kept thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of otherwise well qualified people out of our Service.  Today, amateur radio's very survival is becoming ever more questionable as we "old farts" continue to die off in ever-increasing numbers and potential youthful newcomers to our Service continue to look elsewhere to exercise their budding technical and communication talents.
Those who have reached the "elite" level are loath to give up anything, including being kind to newcomers.  The "elite" RULE and that is that.

Quote
In fact, I firmly believe it is an extreme cultural distaste for ALL such regulated bigotry and baseless "hazing rituals" that today's youth STILL see in the licensing and regulatory systems for our Service that are one of the principle reasons why amateur radio in the United States has remained so out of touch with today's youth.  That's probably also why, up until very recently at least, we've remained consistently unable to attract large numbers of them.
Ya know, I've been trying to point out that same thing throughout the tremendous growth of the Technician class license since it began only 19 years ago.  The "elite" just don't want to hear of that.  Neither does the League.  League bosses are very comfortable as they are, thankyouverymuch, and they can pocket their 6-figure annual pay without remorse.  The bosses are also way too comfortable with the way things WERE.  That shows on the pages of QST.

Quote
Indeed, and as I've noted in other threads, the plan for the eventual demise of "incentive licensing" is now already well underway.  The latest chapter in that plan was the FCC's complete elimination of our absolutely ARCANE Morse testing requirement back in 2007.
It's only just begun, the first seed planted in 2000 with "restructuring."  First blooming was in 2007 with 06-178 released in December 2006.  I too expect the growth of a new species to continue but it will be slow.  The FCC has plenty of OTHER regulatory issues to deal with and HOBBY radio doesn't rank as do-it-immediately priority.  The "elitists" are highly vocal and will be outraged!

Quote

The bad news, however, is that it may very well take another generation or two before such fundamentalist regulatory zealots completely disappear from the ranks of our Service…along with all the reams of licensing and regulatory overkill that STILL underwrites their ever-more out-of-touch, 1950s-era, elitist blather.
Not good news to me but expected.  :D   What is good news, although kept rather silent among the cacophony of the "elitests" shouting out the insistence on NO-change is that there a few of us with the spirit to fight the good fights.  WE got 06-178 into regulations.  :D

Quote
Indeed, as Professor Doctor Max Planck, winner of the Nobel Prize for physics and one of the greatest physicists of the early 20th Century once said, “Innovation rarely makes its way by gradually winning over and converting its opponents.  What does happen is that its opponents gradually die out, and the growing generation is familiarized with the innovative ideas from the beginning.”
Along about the middle of the last century I was perusing some textbooks in a library.  One "new" addition to the shelves was on basic electricity and espoused "Franklin current flow" which was just the opposite of electron flow.  Too confusing to me so I put it back on the shelves.  The idea that electrons lept from plate to cathode or (in TV) from ultor to cathode apparently was foreign to the writer in the 1950s.  I would judge that he later "walked the Planck" and went into the water of ignorance, still saying He was Right...

73, Len K6LHA


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K7KBN on August 27, 2010, 10:07:05 PM
Ah, the mutual admiration society strikes again. ::)


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on August 28, 2010, 05:19:42 AM
Shouldn't've brought Dick Bash up.  Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.   ::)  :-[


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on August 28, 2010, 05:32:18 AM
The REAL issue, as witness the wording and tone of the rationalizers defending the current (of a half century ago) system, is the old "I AM BETTER THAN YOU" braggadoccio.

No it isn't.

Half a century ago was 1960. The changes which became known as "Incentive Licensing" weren't proposed until 1963, and didn't go into effect until 1968.

At least get the history right.

MOST of the respondents on this topic are already Extra class.  They want to KEEP all the rank, status, privilege they feel is "theirs" (because they "earned" it according to them).  They fear a loss of such rank, status, privilege is the present class-distinction system is removed.

Since you have a 2007-vintage Extra and a vanity call, Len, you're talking about yourself.

There was never any "technology gap" per se, only the odd sort of sports-contest feeling reported on "who was first?" during the Cold War.

It was a lot more than a "sports-contest feeling".

The USSR orbited the first artificial space satellite in 1957, and followed it by a long list of space firsts - first human in space, first space probe to leave earth orbit, first pictures of the far side of the moon, first woman in space, first space walk, and much more. Meanwhile the USA space program could hardly get off the ground.

Of course the USA ultimately caught up with the USSR in some ways. But, at the time, there was the widespread perception of a "gap". That perception was the driving force behind many things, from the "New Math" to the expansion of NACA/NASA from a small, almost unknown agency to the organization that put people on the moon.

Now, against all of THAT, AMATEURS were "supposed to innovate and advance any state of the radio art?!? 

Sure - why not?

Amateurs wouldn't be running zone-refining furnaces in their basements, nor other big-ticket things. But they could come up with less-expensive, less-complex ways of doing things, which is a big part of innovation and advancement of the state of the radio art.

It's certainly important and wonderful when someone does a thing for the first time. Usually such firsts are the result of expensive efforts by government and/or industry, led by experts. Sometimes amateurs play a role, but not often.

But equally if not more important, and wonderful, is the transformation of a "first" into a widespread practical applied technology. Sometimes that happens, sometimes it doesn't, but it's where radio amateurs play a much bigger role.

(It should be remembered that before 1962 radio amateurs had succeeded in both moonbounce *communication* and an artificial earth satellite (Oscar 1)).

Even more widespread are those experts who got their start in amateur radio. For just one example, the original US Army moon-radar success involved many who were already radio amateurs.

By "upgrading" to Extra class largely through high-rate morse code testing at a time when morse code was already being downsized as a communications medium?  I'm sorry, but all of that is political jingoism, sloganeering, and sham patriotism on the part of certain special-interest groups and a few in the USA still stuck in glories of WWII victory.

The upgrade process was more about written testing than about code testing. 20 wpm is hardly "high-rate" Morse Code, anyway.

Most important of all, the ARRL *opposed* the creation of the Extra in 1951. It was not their idea; it came from elsewhere and was pushed on amateur radio by FCC. In 1963, the original ARRL incentive licensing proposal proposed nothing more than reopening the Advanced to new issues and giving both Advanceds and Extras full privileges, while reducing the voice privileges of Generals and Conditionals. IOW, no additional code testing at all.

At least get the history right.


It was a pure business decision, Keith.  If the majority of income is from publications and resale of goods, then that takes precedence in decision-making.

When incentive licensing went into effect in 1968, the sole ARRL license manual covered all license classes already. So the changes would make no difference. Selling more publications wasn't part of the decision at all.  

I've been trying to point out that same thing throughout the tremendous growth of the Technician class license since it began only 19 years ago.

The Technician license was created in 1951 - 59 years ago. Not 19 years ago. It was split into two classes (Tech and Tech Plus) in 1994, but in 2000 those two classes began to merge again, until now there are no current unexpired Tech Pluses at all.

The growth of the Tech/Tech Plus group has pretty much stopped in the past decade. Here's proof:

Total number of current, unexpired FCC-issued amateur licenses held by individuals on the stated dates:

As of May 14, 2000:

Novice - 49,329 (7.3%)
Technician - 205,394 (30.4%)
Technician Plus - 128,860 (19.1%)
General - 112,677 (16.7%)
Advanced - 99,782 (14.8%)
Extra - 78,750 (11.7%)

Total Tech/TechPlus - 334,254 (49.5%)

Total all classes - 674,792


As of February 22, 2007:

Novice - 22,896 (3.5%)
Technician - 293,508 (44.8%)
Technician Plus - 30,818 (4.7%)
General - 130,138 (19.9%)
Advanced - 69,050 (10.5%)
Extra - 108,270 (16.5%)

Total Tech/TechPlus - 324,326 (49.5%)

Total all classes - 654,680

As of August 21, 2010:

Novice: 16,134 (2.3%)
Technician 341,643 (49.2%)
Technician Plus 0 (0.0%)
General 154,598 (22.3%)
Advanced 59,867 (8.6%)
Extra 121,879 (17.6%)

Total 694,121

In the decade from 2000 to 2010, the number of Generals grew by over 41,000 and the number of Extras grew by over 43,000. Meanwhile the combined Tech/Tech Plus group grew by less than 8000.

More important, the percentage of US hams with a Tech or Tech Plus has actually *declined* slightly in that time, while the percentage with Extra or General has increased dramatically.

What is good news, although kept rather silent among the cacophony of the "elitests" shouting out the insistence on NO-change is that there a few of us with the spirit to fight the good fights.  WE got 06-178 into regulations.  :D

Ah, the rooster taking credit for the dawn...

It was clear in 1999 that FCC intended to remove all Morse Code testing from amateur license requirements. It was stated in their restructuring Report and Order that the only reason they kept the 5 wpm code test at all was because of the ITU=R treaty requirement S25.5. So when the treaty requirement was gone, the rest was a done deal.

At least get the history right.

But the anti-code-test folks messed up.

What they should have done between 2000 and 2003 was to prepare a simple, straightforward proposal to remove the Morse Code test from the amateur requirements. Better yet, make it optional, like the Canadian system. And not only write the proposal, but publicize it and get widespread amateur support for it.

Then, when the treaty changed, present that proposal to FCC.

Instead, there were several remove-the-code-test proposals written by small groups, which were submitted to FCC at different times, with varying levels of publicity and support. That willy-nilly approach resulted in a pile of keep-the-code-test proposals in response. They all got RM-numbers, comment periods, etc.

And the whole process took almost 4 years, when it could have been done in less than a year.

A lot of noise and fuss to get FCC to do what they were going to do anyway.

The idea that electrons lept from plate to cathode or (in TV) from ultor to cathode apparently was foreign to the writer in the 1950s.

I hope it *was* foreign to that writer - because electrons don't do that. They go from cathode to plate, or from cathode to ultor, not the other way around.

At least get the basic physics right.

  I would judge that he later "walked the Planck" and went into the water of ignorance, still saying He was Right...

The idea that current flows from positive to negative in a circuit is simply a mathematical convention. Anyone who really understands electricity knows that electrons actually go the other way, and has no problem dealing with the difference between "electron flow" and "current flow".

btw, the mathematical convention is the result of Ben Franklin (the world's first electrical engineer) not having the technology to determine the charge of the current-carriers.

At least get the history right.

----

All that said, the real questions are:

What license structure and requirements would best serve Amateur Radio in the USA?

Why would such a structure be better than the current 3 license level system? [1]

How would we get from the current system to the new one?

73 de Jim, N2EY

[1] Yes, the rule books currently show 6 US license classes, and 5 of them have licensees with current, unexpired licenses. But the number of hams in the 3 closed-off-to-new-issues license classes is constantly decreasing, and now amounts to less than 11% of US hams. So from the standpoint of newcomers, and those wishing to upgrade their licenses, we have a 3 level system for all practical purposes.






73 de Jim, N2EY  


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on August 28, 2010, 05:37:02 AM
Shouldn't've brought Dick Bash up.  Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.   ::)  :-[

No, it was an important factor. Like him or not, it's important to know the history.

As W5ESE points out, his books were actually on the market only a short time. And as I pointed out, they were only a success because people helped him gather information to write them, and bought them once they were published.

I've never actually seen one - just pictures of them.

73 de Jim, N2EY

 


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on August 28, 2010, 10:53:23 AM
Ah, the mutual admiration society strikes again. ::)
Hee hee hee...I just KNEW that Jimmie would strike at my trolling line...(he never fails, hasn't for a decade).

73, Len K6LHA


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on August 28, 2010, 11:26:20 AM
strike at my trolling line

So you're intentionally posting untruths in order to get attention.

Thanks for admitting it.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on August 28, 2010, 05:15:58 PM
The REAL issue, as witness the wording and tone of the rationalizers defending the current (of a half century ago) system, is the old "I AM BETTER THAN YOU" braggadoccio.
Quote
No it isn't.

Half a century ago was 1960. The changes which became known as "Incentive Licensing" weren't proposed until 1963, and didn't go into effect until 1968.

At least get the history right.
Wow, toss a string off a rowboat and a "correcting whale" bites on the end!  :D

Gollee, Gomer, is this the HISTORY channel?

I wasn't an AMATEUR in radio in 1963.  I'd already been operating on HF for 10 years, been employed in west coast aerospace electronics for 7 years, had my "CB license" for 4 years, and my First 'Phone since 1956.  In 1963 I might read a CQ or a 73 or a QST if one was available for perusal but had no LUST for having my very own radio station to talk to foreign lands.  Spending three years keeping major communications facilities operating during the Cold War with other stations from Asmara, Eritrea, to San Francisco, California, from Tokyo over 41 HF transmitters sort of takes some of the "my own station fun" out of my personal picture.  That's not uncommon among PROFESSIONALS in the radio business.

Quote
Since you have a 2007-vintage Extra and a vanity call, Len, you're talking about yourself.
Well put...when faced with some reality about yourself, you attempt to turn things around and blame the reality-teller.  :D

I've never had a single amateur radio license less than Amateur Extra.  So?  Having an Extra class allows high priority on vanity call requests.  So?  Getting either is some kind of moral or ethical "fault?"  It was all in the regulations in 2007.  Perfectly permissible.

As I've said before, I got Extra for two reasons:  (1) I could; (2) It yielded freedom to exercise all the OPTIONS in operating as a radio amateur, any OPTIONS that I cared to do.

There's a third point:  I was already retired (from regular hours) as a professional in radio, had established myself (however that is rated) as reasonably successful in life, had no liens, had enough money, had a wonderful wife (who was my high school sweetheart), reasonably good health.  I had no NEED to "establish my 'rep'" in radio, particularly radio AS IT WAS A HALF CENTURY AGO.  I'd "been there and done that" more years back than a half century.  Not only that, I had to learn to KILL enemies first before being posted in a radio-operating assignment.  :D

But, in 2007, after being a casual hobbyist in electronics (many areas, not just HF radio) since 1947 I am "AT FAULT" for not COPYING (even loving) the standards and practices of the 1950s and 1960s as it was told to me that I "should" by doing by some old men amateurs in a New England suburb?  Yes, it was so.  I must love and embrace OOK CW or I would NOT be a "real ham" according to other old men of the amateur elitists.

Now, many decry that Part 97 (of Title 47 Code of Federal Regulations) "does not say that amateur radio is a 'hobby'" so elitists bridle that I say it is.  :D   Unfortunately, really READING the definitions in Part 97 not only says it IS, but the Title of Part 97 is very definitely AMATEUR Radio.  In the definitions it does state that AMATEUR Radio is NOT, repeat NOT, to be done for the purposes of monetary gain while using that amateur radio license.  What else is amateur radio?  A state of mind?  A fantasy situation where one can proclaim one is a "champion" at something?  Perhaps.

Various amateur radio venues with (so-called "discussion" groups) abound.  Those are populated largely by older people who have the time to spend glorifying the "wonders of early radio" AS THEY DID IT.  Many of them insist and insist that regulations (that apply to all ages) BE KEPT AS-IS WHEN THEY WERE FIRST LICENSED.  That lends credence to my opinion that, to them, USA amateur radio IS a sort of fantasy situation, a break-away from reality where they can retreat to some kind of personal nirvana of their own choosing.  Have any of these fantasizers EVER thought how their words appear to younger folk that MIGHT be interested in radio?  Very few vocal fantasy zealots have, I think, since they are so busy puffing up themselves as gurus of something.  This isn't really appreciated by younger folk who really don't give a darn about what happened EXACTLY 50 years ago or even 60 years ago.  The younger folk generally don't give a darn about "operating CW" like it was done 50 or 60 or more years ago.  Those who give a darn about TECHNOLOGY of electronics have gone into OTHER hobbies that are more intellectually stimulating than gabbing on HF with code keys.

Keith, KB1SF, has tried to point it out, the reality of NOW and how it was just recently.  The elitists don't care about changing regulations.  The elitists want to KEEP everything the same.  They want their own little playground on HF and everyone else OFF.  That was the tone EXACTLY 52 years ago when CB was allowed on the "11m" part of HF.  I heard it first-hand after 1958 as an adult.

<on the so-called "technology gap" during the Cold War>
Quote
It was a lot more than a "sports-contest feeling".

The USSR orbited the first artificial space satellite in 1957, and followed it by a long list of space firsts - first human in space, first space probe to leave earth orbit, first pictures of the far side of the moon, first woman in space, first space walk, and much more. Meanwhile the USA space program could hardly get off the ground.
Tsk, tsk, your words are in the style of sports pages.  :D

Okay, lets look at the "league scores" of this "space sport."  A dozen Americans have walked ON the Lunar surface.  Any "Russians?"  None.  Have there been any USSR (or "Russian") space shuttles?  Only a prototype on display in Russia, no word on whether it achieved atmospheric flight at all.  The American space program has been described abundantly with detail enough to show the shortcomings of some aspects of it, all published and for sale to the public through the US GPO.  The best the Russian program can come up with is a three-person capsule (or similar-size cargo capsule).  The USA program was a planned development, nothing really hidden from view except the "spy satellites."

Did you know that the USSR was being overflown reapeatedly by western countries BEFORE the U-2 was finished in development.  Yes, true, but at a terrible toll for the few recon photos that made it back.  The U-2 flew at altitudes beyond the early capabilities of USSR ground-to-air rockets, before any human had been in space, starting way back in 1955.  The SR-71 did it higher and much faster, stopped from overflying the USSR by politics, not missles.  The USA even had an unmanned aircraft that was tried in overflights of mainland China (code name "Tagboard").  That is all from Ben Rich's autobiography "Skunk Works" (Rich took over the operations at Building 82 of Lockheed when Clarence "Kelly" Johnson retired).  The "Skunk Works" was established at Burbank Airport at the end of WWII and was busy with true cutting-edge aircraft for over four decades...just a mile from my house.  The F-117 stealth fighter was developed under Ben Rich, its shape dictated by theories outlined by a Russian academician.  :D

Quote
Of course the USA ultimately caught up with the USSR in some ways. But, at the time, there was the widespread perception of a "gap". That perception was the driving force behind many things, from the "New Math" to the expansion of NACA/NASA from a small, almost unknown agency to the organization that put people on the moon.
You being in the railroad business, I will forgive your slight that "NACA was a small, almost unknown agency" since you are unaquainted with airfoil shapes or other aerodynamics.  NASA didn't JUST "put people on the moon," they ran several successful programs, from unmanned satellites to other planets to the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo programs, radar mapping of near planets' surfaces, orbiting weather satellite technology, the Rogallo Wing (an offshoot of Gemini), radiation hardening of semiconductors, human health in micro-gravity with sidelights of automatic body sensors, and lots of other things in electronics and metallurgy and polymers.

Quote
Amateurs wouldn't be running zone-refining furnaces in their basements, nor other big-ticket things. But they could come up with less-expensive, less-complex ways of doing things, which is a big part of innovation and advancement of the state of the radio art.
Then describe for us the "innovations and advancements of the state of the radio art" as done by USA radio amateurs, SOLELY AS AMATEURS, since, say, 1945.  Have ANY of those VERY FEW things made it to the marketplace, the electronics industry, the medical field?

Quote
But equally if not more important, and wonderful, is the transformation of a "first" into a widespread practical applied technology. Sometimes that happens, sometimes it doesn't, but it's where radio amateurs play a much bigger role.
Just LIST things, don't try to obfuscate with over-generalizations and press-release wording.  CALL them out!  Be specific.

Quote
(It should be remembered that before 1962 radio amateurs had succeeded in both moonbounce *communication* and an artificial earth satellite (Oscar 1)).
The only "artificial" earth satellites are described as "space junk," debris from other satellites or rocket stage pieces.  Oscar I was a low earth-orbit satellite.  Van Allen's telemetered satellite was lofted on a modified Redstone rocket by NASA before the Oscar series began.  That's history, Jimmie, so much so that I and my neighbors watched an ECHO balloon in space orbit from our front yards.

Quote
Even more widespread are those experts who got their start in amateur radio. For just one example, the original US Army moon-radar success involved many who were already radio amateurs.
If they WORKED for the Army, then they were PROFESSIONALS.  1946 is EXACTLY 64 years ago.  I was 13 years old then and already in middle school.  You weren't even born yet.  Project Diana wasn't any amateur project, it was a professional military project.  I know exactly where Coles, Evans, and Squier Laboratories are, on the highway outside of Fort Monmouth on the way to Red Bank, NJ.  Been there.

Quote
The upgrade process was more about written testing than about code testing. 20 wpm is hardly "high-rate" Morse Code, anyway.
Forgive me, Captain Code.  I should have known better than to step on the rep of a "Morse-Master."
:D

Quote
The Technician license was created in 1951 - 59 years ago. Not 19 years ago.
Yes, I'm using the right trolling bait.  You HAD to bite on that...again.  :D

You just can't envision ANY amateur radio license that doesn't require a code test.  Not even now.
:D

K6LHA


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on August 28, 2010, 05:32:22 PM
What is good news, although kept rather silent among the cacophony of the "elitests" shouting out the insistence on NO-change is that there a few of us with the spirit to fight the good fights.  WE got 06-178 into regulations.  :D
Quote
Ah, the rooster taking credit for the dawn...

Call US all the names you want, Jimmie, the FACT is that FCC 06-178 released in December of 2006 was DONE, the only thing remaining being the EXACT data of code test elimination.  WE WON.  You LOST.

NPRM 05-235 was plagued with a false start after its release, but the FACT is that MORE respondents to it were FOR code test elimination EARLY ON.  That is noted in the Exhibit I submitted 10 days after the official cessation of Comments on NPRM 05-235.  It is still visible at the FCC ECFS.  WE presented our arguments in a logical manner.  The opponents of code test elimination could not.

I would suggest you adopt some civility and accept regulation defeat graciously.  De Coubertain emphasized that in Olympics competition.  I see very little graicousness among the "elitists."

The FACT that code testing is eliminated in the USA for ANY license class is THERE.  It IS history.  Try to accept it.  It will make you a better middle-aged man.

Quote
It was clear in 1999 that FCC intended to remove all Morse Code testing from amateur license requirements. It was stated in their restructuring Report and Order that the only reason they kept the 5 wpm code test at all was because of the ITU=R treaty requirement S25.5. So when the treaty requirement was gone, the rest was a done deal.
Sorry, sonny, that is just plain hindsight bullpucky.  You are GUESSING.  You don't work AT the FCC but remain an employee of Consolidated Railways Corporation headquartered in Philadelphia, PA.  The rest of us don't have crystal balls, just the ones that are natural ingredients.

First of all, you are gabbling from HINDSIGHT.  You forget (conveniently) that the ARRL was adamantly OPPOSED to code test elimination before WRC-03.  The ARRL was at odds with the IARU on the issue up to WRC-03.  Oh, the ARRL made some nice-nice noises AFTER WRC-03, even had a big schmooze party in Geneva afterwards to soothe IARU feelings, duly reported by K1ZZ who was there (at ARRL members' expense).  The ARRL wouldn't comment much about WRC-03 after it was over except to over-inlate the final decision on 40m band broadcast incursion that had been in "discussion" since WARC-79.

Quote
At least get the history right.
I did.  You "don't know the truth."  Quit trying to play a Colonel Jessup in here.  :D

Quote
But the anti-code-test folks messed up.
No, the PRO-code-test folks just couldn't present a valid argument to KEEP the code test.  The PRO-code-test folks messed up.  They LOST.

Quote
What they should have done between 2000 and 2003 was to prepare a simple, straightforward proposal to remove the Morse Code test from the amateur requirements. Better yet, make it optional, like the Canadian system. And not only write the proposal, but publicize it and get widespread amateur support for it.
Again, you are gabbling from hindsight.  NPRM 05-235 was concerned with the FUTURE, not some time long ago in the past.

HISTORY has it that, between 1999 and 2005 there were no less than EIGHTEEN Proposals of Reconsideration of "restructuring" released for Comment by the FCC.  Most of those were considering code testing in some form or another.  Jimmie, I have all of those Proposals and the entire commentary on NPRM 05-235 archived on CDs.  :D

There's 5 1/2 years of time between release of the "restructuring" R&O and release of 05-235, which HAD to be addressed by the small FCC staff, in addition to a few other amateur regulatory tasks.  Even if your (mysterious) prognostication of future happenings were true (which is very, very uncertain), the FCC had to get those EIGHTEEN Proposals handled. 

Quote
Then, when the treaty changed, present that proposal to FCC.
Jimmie, WRC-03 didn't take place until the middle of 2003.  Even then there is a wait time while the Administration folks (State, NTIA, FCC) get their report finished, conclusion concluded.  There's a hole of at least 3 years there from the time of legal implementation of restructuring and WRC-03 finishing until the FCC could act for any NEW NPRM.

Quote
Instead, there were several remove-the-code-test proposals written by small groups, which were submitted to FCC at different times, with varying levels of publicity and support. That willy-nilly approach resulted in a pile of keep-the-code-test proposals in response. They all got RM-numbers, comment periods, etc.
Be a good lad and supply all those "no-code-test" proposal RM numbers and their release dates, OK?
Remember, those proposals couldn't be effective until WRC-03 was OVER and special ITU radio regulation S25 was changed, re-written.

Quote
A lot of noise and fuss to get FCC to do what they were going to do anyway.
Awww...poor baby...the FCC is the "villain," is it?   tsk, tsk, tsk   :D

Quote
The idea that current flows from positive to negative in a circuit is simply a mathematical convention. Anyone who really understands electricity knows that electrons actually go the other way, and has no problem dealing with the difference between "electron flow" and "current flow".
Right...and all streams and rivers have water flowing uphill by "convention" but the water really goes downstream.  Tell that to the residents of New Orleans on the 50th anniversary of Katrina.  :D

Quote
All that said, the real questions are:
WHY IS THE AMATEUR EXTRA CLASS EXISTING AT ALL WHEN THERE IS NO ESSENTIAL DIFFERENCE IN OPERATING PRIVILEGES TODAY?

That's only ONE question, posed by Keith, KB1SF, and you've never answered it.  All you've done is talk around it, obfuscate it to death, try to misdirect the flow of comments.

You are misdirecting by trying to pose "new" questions, none of which ARE "new" but just to have something to talk about.  Nonproductive behavior.

Quote
[1] Yes, the rule books currently show 6 US license classes, and 5 of them have licensees with current, unexpired licenses. But the number of hams in the 3 closed-off-to-new-issues license classes is constantly decreasing, and now amounts to less than 11% of US hams. So from the standpoint of newcomers, and those wishing to upgrade their licenses, we have a 3 level system for all practical purposes.
The number of licenses ON THE BOOKS (at the FCC) is 638,207 total for Technician, General, and Extra; 84,493 total for Technician Plus, Novice, Advanced; 11,327 club calls, all as of the statistics at the end of 27 August 2010.  There were 722,706 total INDIVIDUAL licenses issued.  I don't care if you go blue in the face talking about "unexpired" or not, there are still SIX license classes still there ON THE BOOKS.  All of those licenses were the result of nearly three-quarters of a million folks who all passed their tests and were granted licenses in USA amateur radio.

Unless Part 97 regulations are changed, the number of totally "expired" USA amateur radio licenses as of the end of 27 Aug 10 were 3,399 Technician Plus.  They can still change their license class through testing and remain IN amateur radio or they can (probably) keep on being angry at all the elitists' barracks lawyering and get OUT of amateur radio.  That leaves 81,106 in the USA who CAN renew indefinitely (unless regulations are changed) but are not available as NEW-issue licenses.  That's the population of a medium-sized city which you don't seem to classify as either "expired" or "unexpired" Novices and Advanced and are in some odd state of limbo, regulation-wise.

K6LHA



Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on August 28, 2010, 06:40:37 PM
NPRM 05-235 was plagued with a false start after its release, but the FACT is that MORE respondents to it were FOR code test elimination EARLY ON. 

But that's not the whole story, Len.

When the comment deadline was reached, there were more pro-code-test comments than no-code-test comments. Particularly when duplicates were removed. The same was true back in 1998-99. The *majority* of those who bothered to comment wanted at least some code testing to remain.

But it's not a democratic process. FCC did not have to do what the majority wanted - so they didn't. It was a done deal long before the first comment went in.

It's interesting to see that you still don't let reality get in the way of a good rant, Len.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on August 28, 2010, 09:23:14 PM
NPRM 05-235 was plagued with a false start after its release, but the FACT is that MORE respondents to it were FOR code test elimination EARLY ON. 
Quote
But that's not the whole story, Len.
When the comment deadline was reached, there were more pro-code-test comments than no-code-test comments. Particularly when duplicates were removed. The same was true back in 1998-99. The *majority* of those who bothered to comment wanted at least some code testing to remain.
Good grief, you are such a sore loser!    :D

You forget (again conveniently) that what is written in comments and replies to comments is what counts, not the "body count" of your alleged "votes."  Those who raged to keep the code test forever and ever were parroting all the old, trite ARRL maxims and couldn't think much for themselves.

Jimmie, I read each and every comment, pro, con, in-between, noted the duplicates, informed the FCC of them (only three individuals it turned out) plus, at the end, some law students getting hands-on practice with the process of arguing their point.  In general, the law students were better at the commentary than most of the elitist keep-the-code-test-at-all-cost types.

Quote
But it's not a democratic process. FCC did not have to do what the majority wanted - so they didn't. It was a done deal long before the first comment went in.

Tsk, tsk, you've said the same thing over on rec.radio.amateur.policy over four years ago and you still don't understand what is going on.  You just can't understand that YOU do not dictate regulations based on on what YOU personally want.

By December of 2006 the FCC had DECIDED.  The sky fell on the elitists who though USA amateur radio was all governed by the morse-masters.  The rest of us just accepted the decision and went on with life.  I suggest that you accept things with grace and look to the future.  Even if you don't seem to have any future except reliving a past that can never be again.


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on August 28, 2010, 10:37:16 PM
The younger folk generally don't give a darn about "operating CW" like it was done 50 or 60 or more years ago.  Those who give a darn about TECHNOLOGY of electronics have gone into OTHER hobbies that are more intellectually stimulating than gabbing on HF with code keys.

I am in my early 30's (not young enough?) and have been operating CW for almost 15 years now.  The high school students in my childhood ham radio club used to compete to see who could send and receive fastest.  Building up our code was a challenge that we enjoyed with a healthy pride.  Instead of chopping others down, we would all celebrate when one of us completed all the ham exams.  Of course, we'd put just a little peer pressure on the others to "come up the ranks".  In the end, however, we were happy when each one of us succeeded.     

This pride in accomplishment is not prehistory.  Clinton administration, in fact.

Achievement and narcissism are contradictory.  Achievement is a healthy and even important emotion and experience.  Risk and failure often pay off in reward and personal satisfaction (the healthy pride I referred to earlier).  Narcissism, on the other hand, is a projection of inadequacy and a fear of the paramount crucible of life known as trial and error.  Len, I only wish that you would have been able to place aside your inadequacies earlier in life and accepted the lifelong challenge and joy that is the skill of amateur radio.  Maybe you could have spared us your endless attempts to tear others from the joy and satisfaction they have derived from this great avocation. 

SK CL, Jordan         


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N0NB on August 29, 2010, 06:03:26 AM
As a side bar I think it would be interesting to know how many of those who have cried loudest over the past decade since restructuring used a Bash book to get their license in the late '70s.  Hopefully not many but I'd wager there were a few.

Actually, zero hams used Dick Bash's book to get licensed in the 1970's. Dick's 'The Final Exam' appeared in 1980, according to 'The Wayback Machine':

http://www.qsl.net/ecara/wayback/page34.html

Technically, 1980 was the last year of the '70s.   ;)

But I'll concede the point as I wasn't there having only gotten the ham radio bug in very early 1981 and then only reading ARRL materials plus one Radio Shack book titled "From 5 to 1000 Watts" so I missed any mention of Bash until much later.

I do know that ARRL offered their own Q&A booklet, in fact I bought one for the Tech/General of that time around 1982 but it was obsolete by the time I took my actual Tech exam in early 1985.  I don't recall that it was touted as being verbatim of the actual exams, though it was probably touted as being "representative" of the FCC exams.


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on August 29, 2010, 06:23:28 AM
I do know that ARRL offered their own Q&A booklet, in fact I bought one for the Tech/General of that time around 1982 but it was obsolete by the time I took my actual Tech exam in early 1985.  I don't recall that it was touted as being verbatim of the actual exams, though it was probably touted as being "representative" of the FCC exams.

Sionce the 1930s, the ARRL has published License Manuals and other materials with study guides in them. But until the VE system was created in 1984, those study guides did NOT contain the actual Q&A used on the tests.

In those days of "secret" tests, the FCC would publish a guide to what subjects would be on the tests, so potential licensees would know what to study. Those were public domain; anybody could get them on request, and the ARRL, Ameco and other publishers used them as guides.

However, unauthorized possession of actual test materials, or misuse (such as copying) was a Federal crime.

What Bash did was to ask people who had just taken the test to tell him what the actual questions were. Some say he also sent people into the exam sessions with the purpose of memorizing the test content.

By compiling all of what people told him, Bash was able to reconstruct the actual test questions and answers without having actually seen them directly. The results became his (in)famous books, which cost $20 back then. A lot of money back then, considering that an ARRL Handbook cost only $15.

The book was actually quite thin, because the actual FCC question pool in use at the time wasn't very large. The small size of the pool was a key secret in the test process, and the reason for the 30-day-wait-to-retest rule.

The VEC/QPC system swept all that away, and made access to the actual Q&A legal.

73 de Jim, N2EY



Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N0NB on August 29, 2010, 07:01:32 AM
I understand that perfectly well, Jim.  I'm saying that the ARRL published a Q&A booklet separate and distinct from their licensing manual.  I had both from circa 1982 to prep on my own for an FCC exam that never happened.  Whether I still have them is another question.  :)

Time to work the KS QSO Party.


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: W5LZ on August 29, 2010, 07:08:49 AM
I dolen't have a problem with license 'classes'.  The very basic idea behind them is to show how much knowledge you have.  Feel like you are being belittled?  Easy fix, study and get the higher class license.

Am I happy with the present 'level' of license testing?  Not really.  It's more a memorization thingy than and examination of knowledge.  Do I want to go back to the 'long hand' answers to questions on a test?  Only if I don't have to take/re-take them!! :)  There is certainly room for improvement though.  Wish I had -the- answer, but I don't.
Paul



Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on August 29, 2010, 11:54:53 AM
The younger folk generally don't give a darn about "operating CW" like it was done 50 or 60 or more years ago.  Those who give a darn about TECHNOLOGY of electronics have gone into OTHER hobbies that are more intellectually stimulating than gabbing on HF with code keys.

Quote
I am in my early 30's (not young enough?) and have been operating CW for almost 15 years now.  The high school students in my childhood ham radio club used to compete to see who could send and receive fastest.  Building up our code was a challenge that we enjoyed with a healthy pride.  Instead of chopping others down, we would all celebrate when one of us completed all the ham exams.  Of course, we'd put just a little peer pressure on the others to "come up the ranks".  In the end, however, we were happy when each one of us succeeded. 

I can understand your pride of accomplishment and your telling a personal anecdote in a small portion of the USA.  Yes, I can also understand your being bridled by an apparent negative judgement taken personally.  But let us look at the LARGER picture of national regulation of radio and communication in a land that is (roughly) 300 million citizens of a wide variety of races, ethnicity, ages, and personal opinions...and with a rich bounty of technological aids to nearly every part of our life.  LICENSING in radio, all radio, affects EVERYONE.  No one person nor group nor national organization can be satisfied with decisions arrived at by any federal agency or even a pseudo-agency that attempts to sway individual preferences in anything to their particular opinions.

WE are almost at four years past the (probably) most contentious issue in USA amateur radio, namely NPRM 05-235 on whether or not there should be a morse code cognition test for any USA amateur radio license grant.  That was duly commented on for over a half year in public view with the FCC.  A decision was reached and released in December 2006 with Memorandum Report and Order 06-178, date of activation to be announced in the Federal Register.  That was done and code testing ended on 23 February 2007.  Some who were granted amateur radio licenses prior to that date will not accept it personally, may never accept it personally until their "life-license" expires.  I cannot help that.  I can only comment, as a forward-thinking person, on those who absolutely refuse to accept certain laws and regulations which are not to their personal acceptance.  If they choose to bar progress in anything not to their liking, then we can all give up being citizens of democratic-principled republic who have the right to express ourselves to our government on laws which are changeable.  I am sorry you had a personal viewpoint which was bothered by my comments, but then consider that I have been bothered by others' personal restrictive viewpoints for a very long time, yet have appreciated this upholding of our law, our constitution, enough to voluntarily join the military to defend those rights during a time of war.  I truly believe in our system and will continue to uphold it, including acceptance of law despite any personal opinion against those laws.  

Quote
This pride in accomplishment is not prehistory.  Clinton administration, in fact.
Perhaps my choice to use the word "prehistory" was uncivil.  On the other hand, to a young teen-ager of today, the "Clinton administration" time was prehistory.  It is a personal point of view.

Quote
Achievement and narcissism are contradictory.
I must disagree with that blanket sentence.  Proor will be displayed on national television this Sunday night, 29 August 2010, when the entertainment industry, rife with narcissm, will present an awards show.   :D

Quote
Len, I only wish that you would have been able to place aside your inadequacies earlier in life and accepted the lifelong challenge and joy that is the skill of amateur radio.  Maybe you could have spared us your endless attempts to tear others from the joy and satisfaction they have derived from this great avocation.
Like all humans, I have "inadequacies" but I've been a hobbyist in electronics since 1947, a professional in radio since 1953, and have had an adequate life so far...with more to come.  I just do not personally think that the "achievement" of morse code skill is necessary in my life...or a neccessary skill for anyone to be granted an amateur radio license...and certainly not a requirementl to be codified in law by an agency that does not, nor has for decades, mandated morse code mode in the operation of an amateur radio over and above any other optional mode. 

73, Len K6LHA


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on August 29, 2010, 01:29:31 PM
Jordan, AB2T:

I agree 100% with your post.

I'm particularly fond of this part:

Achievement and narcissism are contradictory.  Achievement is a healthy and even important emotion and experience.  Risk and failure often pay off in reward and personal satisfaction (the healthy pride I referred to earlier).  Narcissism, on the other hand, is a projection of inadequacy and a fear of the paramount crucible of life known as trial and error. 

Worth repeating - and quoting!

Hope to see you on the air soon.

TNX

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: W5ESE on August 30, 2010, 06:25:25 AM

In those days of "secret" tests, the FCC would publish a guide to what subjects would be on the tests, so potential licensees would know what to study. Those were public domain; anybody could get them on request, and the ARRL, Ameco and other publishers used them as guides.

I have scanned a few of these study guides and made them available. They
are from 1980 (when I was teaching a Novice Class) and 1976 (when I was
studying for my license).

The url is:

 http://sites.google.com/site/arsw5ese/home/fcc-study-guides


73
Scott W5ESE


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: W5ESE on August 30, 2010, 06:35:01 AM
I understand that perfectly well, Jim.  I'm saying that the ARRL published a Q&A booklet separate and distinct from their licensing manual.  I had both from circa 1982 to prep on my own for an FCC exam that never happened.  Whether I still have them is another question.  :)

Time to work the KS QSO Party; you had a good signal down here.


I had the 'From 5 watts to 1000 watts', too, as well as the
'Radio Amateur's License Manual' and some AMECO publications; the 'Amateur Radio Theory Course' (which was for Novice and General), and some license Q&A manuals.

And thanks for the contacts in the KS QSO Party.

73
Scott W5ESE


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on August 30, 2010, 02:02:30 PM
Thanks Scott for the files.  It's amazing how little the exams changed from the late 70's to the mid 90's when I took the exams. 

Industry Canada still posts a summary circular like this for their exams.  However now the ministry publishes the test pools as well.
   
Maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea for the QPC to issue a summary of test topics.  I'd use a summary list to "bunch" various pool questions into subtopics.  One downside of the current study guides is an emphasis on "information dumps" rather than a division of the questions by common topic.  A summary like the one you've posted would help students gain a "big picture" perspective of a ham exam syllabus. 

Cool stuff.  73, Jordan


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on September 01, 2010, 01:07:29 AM
Once you have an extra class license, you will understand. I agree you don't get very much more operating privileges, but it's like owning a Harley. You are a part of the 1% of hams that worked to become EXTRA CLASS. The EXTRA Class license is pretty damn difficult when compared to the General Class. The question pool is 800 questions and you are asked 50 of them. Anyway, like someone has already said KEEP STUDYING. Become part of an ELITE group, we are not any better than the rest but we are EXTRA CLASS and most aren't.
73 nØyg
Robert 8)

When I was extra'd in the mid 90's (let's verb it, why not?), about 10% of hams were Extra.

Now 17% to 20% of hams are Extra.

Hopefully one day soon these figures will rise to 25% or even 30%.  I'm surprised that US ham radio hasn't reached this point yet.  Restructuring has removed so many barriers to full licensure (notably the code, but also the elimination of two written elements).  If there's any time to get the full license, it's now.  And we who hold the Extra should help other hams reach the completion of licensure.

No time for elitism.  Let's keep 'em coming up!

73, Jordan


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KB1SF on September 01, 2010, 04:39:01 AM
Once you have an extra class license, you will understand. I agree you don't get very much more operating privileges, but it's like owning a Harley. You are a part of the 1% of hams that worked to become EXTRA CLASS.

It is not the business of the US Government to stoke your (or anyone else's) ego.  The Amateur Service is not some privately funded, members-only motorcycle club where people can be denied access for no valid (spelled "legal") reason.  Our FCC is also NOT (and never has been) chartered as a degree-granting institution of higher learning.  

Rather, the FCC is nothing more than a US Government, taxpayer funded REGULATORY agency. This means federal licenses providing access to PUBLIC resources (like the radio spectrum that the public ALREADY OWNS) are simply to be GRANTED, not 'earned".

Quote
The EXTRA Class license is pretty damn difficult when compared to the General Class. The question pool is 800 questions and you are asked 50 of them.

All true.  

But this still begs the basic question that (like Jimmie) some of you people keep avoiding like the plague.

That is, what overriding regulatory NEED is fulfilled by maintaining all that difficulty?  In what legally supportable, REGULATORY way does the Extra Class license serve the public interest? Other than to stroke the egos of the "I've got a Harley and you don't" crowd by granting those so anointed access to more slivers of artificially walled-off, so-called "exclusive" HF frequency spectrum (and the ability to apply for a so-called "exclusive" call sign), what overriding REGULATORY purpose under federal law and/or the international rules is served by requiring an Extra Class license for full access to our internationally allocated frequency spectrum?

Indeed, General Class operators have supposedly ALREADY demonstrated that they have the requisite skills and knowledge to safely and courteously operate in our HF bands because they have ALREADY been granted HF access.

So, would you please explain what is so fundamentally different about operating our amateur stations at 14.024 MHz vice 14.026 MHz that the former operation absolutely requires a working knowledge of what's contained in a 600 page license manual based on some 800 (largely irrelevant) questions from yet ANOTHER FCC question pool so as to successfully complete yet ANOTHER (this time 50 question!) written FCC exam?

Quote
Anyway, like someone has already said KEEP STUDYING. Become part of an ELITE group, we are not any better than the rest but we are EXTRA CLASS and most aren't.

Your latter statement is an oxymoron.  Elitists firmly believe they ARE "better than the rest"!

By definition, elitism is the "belief or attitude that some individuals, who supposedly form an "elite"...a select group of people with, intellect, wealth, specialized training and/or experience, or other distinctive attributes...are those whose views on a matter are to be taken the most seriously or carry the most weight or those who view their own views as so; whose views and/or actions are most likely to be constructive to society as a whole."

Sadly, it would now appear that you (and, indeed, many others posting here) very much believe all this to be true as well.

For, no matter how you and your buddies try to dress it up and call it something else, what you people keep promoting is nothing more than the perpetual continuation of largely baseless, 1950s-era, US Government-enabled "hazing rituals" and regulated bigotry.

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AA4PB on September 01, 2010, 05:30:38 AM
It is not the business of the US Government to stoke your (or anyone else's) ego.  Our FCC is also NOT (and never has been) chartered as a degree-granting institution of higher learning.  

97.1 (c) Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communications and technical phases of the art.

According to Part 97.1 it IS the FCC's business to encourage the continued technical learning of amateur radio operators. The various license levels and the associated exams are one way of doing that. The FCC's responsibility is much more than simply ensuring that "operators" know what buttons to push on their radios.

Instead of wasting time fretting about the license classes and exams, why not just invest that time into studying, taking the exams, and upgrading?



Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KB1SF on September 01, 2010, 06:04:59 AM

97.1 (c) Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communications and technical phases of the art.

....i.e.to make us into a "professional" radio service.

The INTERNATIONAL definition of our service simply says that ours is to be "A radiocommunication service for the purpose of self-training, intercommunication and technical investigations carried out by amateurs, that is, by duly authorized persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest.

Again, to whom do the benefits accrue to requiring all that "improvement" nonsense in Part 97.1(c)?  Where is the "solely with a personal aim" contained in any of THAT?

That is, whose business is it whether we "improve" our skills or not?  Do such benefits accrue to us as individuals, or do they help satisfy some GOVERNMENT economic or policy goal?  If so, then doesn't all that Part 97.1 nonsense also fly in the face of the "non pecuniary interest" clause of our international definition?  

And would you please show us where...in that international definition of our service...does it absolutely require (or even allow!) that our "skills in the communication and technical phases of the radio art" MUST be "improved" to the level of a PROFESSIONAL in order for us to be granted full access to our frequencies?  

Indeed, under the internaitonal rules, ours is SUPPOSED to simply be a life-long, "self training" radio service...for AMATEURS...that is, for "persons interested in radio technique solely with a PERSONAL (as opposed to some government-mandated economic or professional) aim and without pecuniary interest".  So why does the FCC still insist on putting a professional-grade "final exam" at the BEGINNING of that learning process in order for we "amateurs" to be "duly authorized" full access to the "leaning lab"?

Quote
According to Part 97.1 it IS the FCC's business to encourage the continued technical learning of amateur radio operators. The various license levels and the associated exams are one way of doing that. The FCC's responsibility is much more than simply ensuring that "operators" know what buttons to push on their radios.

For the reasons stated, I emphatically and categorically disagree.

Quote
Instead of wasting time fretting about the license classes and exams, why not just invest that time into studying, taking the exams, and upgrading?

If these exams (particularly the one for our Extra Class license) serve absolutely NO useful regulatory purpose other than to stroke egos (as I have clearly shown) are systemically discriminatory (and therefore illegal) under a whole plethora of US federal laws (as I have also clearly shown in numerous other posts), then how can what you suggest be defined as anything OTHER than perpetuating "regulated bigotry"?

Most other countries in the world have long since purged such 1950s-era, systemically discriminatory "improvement" eyewash from the licensing and regulatory systems of their Amateur Services. Most have now moved to (or have maintained) a simple one or two-tiered licensing system based primarily on safety and/or non-interference competency considerations rather than on some 1950-era, self-serving, ARRL-inspired (not to mention clearly failed) idea of pseudo-educational "achievement".

Why can't we?  

Keith
KB1SF /  VA3KSF


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AA4PB on September 01, 2010, 06:52:32 AM
You can disagree all you want but the rule (97.1) is there, like it or not. If you want the FCC to change the rule then submit a proposal. Stating your disagreement with the current rules on e-ham isn't going to accomplish anything.

Until the FCC changes the rules, they do have the authority and the responsibility to encourage the advancement of your technical education. At present, amateur radio is more than just talking on a radio. If it ever becomes just talking on a radio then in all likelyhood we will have to use FCC Certified radios just like the other services and you won't be able to design/build your own.



Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KB1SF on September 01, 2010, 01:12:01 PM
You can disagree all you want but the rule (97.1) is there, like it or not. If you want the FCC to change the rule then submit a proposal. Stating your disagreement with the current rules on e-ham isn't going to accomplish anything

As I've said, I don't have to petition the FCC to do a damn thing.  

I have it on good authority (from a retired FCC staffer who is also a ham) that they already KNOW their licensing and regulatory systems for our Service are way out of line with the ITU guidelines, not to mention the licensing systems of most other countries on the planet.  They already KNOW their so-called "incentive licensing" farce no longer passes legal muster when compared with the strict requirements of a whole host of equally binding, 1990s-era US federal equal access laws. And they already KNOW that most of the eyewash written in Part 97.1 by their distant predecessors runs completely counter to the internationally established basis and purpose of our Service.
 
As a result, and for the last 30 years or so, the FCC has been hard at work in slowly deregulating the REST of their predecessor's so-called "incentive" licensing system farce, right under our elitist's collectively upturned noses.  The latest installment of that plan was to completely drop all forms of Morse testing in order to obtain any license in our Service. That happened back in 2007.

Indeed, and as expected, our resident 20 WPM, FCC-tested, elitist snobs STILL haven't gotten over THAT particular bit of deregulatory reform! Dropping the Morse exam entirely was a long-needed elimination of a clearly "unnecessary regulatory barrier" (spelled: "Hazing Ritual") that pushed the "down" button on a lot of our resident OF's "elevator shoes".

Quote
Until the FCC changes the rules, they do have the authority and the responsibility to encourage the advancement of your technical education. At present, amateur radio is more than just talking on a radio. If it ever becomes just talking on a radio then in all likelyhood (Sic) we will have to use FCC Certified radios just like the other services and you won't be able to design/build your own.

Horsepucky!

The ITU definition INCLUDES "talking on the radio" as one of the bases and purposes of our Service! That's what "intercommunication" means in the ITU definition I've cited above. You'll also note that the ITU gives "intercommunication" EQUAL FOOTING with the "self-training" and "technical investigation" parts of the hobby.  And in my mind, even the most liberal interpretation of the phrase, "self-training" doesn't include stroking egos to force "education" up people's finals one irrelevant test question at a time.

What's more, other countries seem to have absolutely no difficulty whatsoever in allowing their amateur licensees to "design and build" their own equipment under a voluntarily administered, TWO TIERED licensing structure.  Indeed, Canada has now been doing this FOR DECADES.  And their sky has yet to fall.  

I also can't help but compare and contrast other country's licensing systems with our current, ego-based, so-called "incentive" licensing farce where even "wet behind the ears" Technicians are freely allowed to do such things as build and operate a 1 KW transmitter "from scratch" or run a high-powered in-band repeater after passing a (horrifically uncomprehensive) 35 question exam.  

Indeed, the vast majority of other country's licensing systems specifically withhold such potentially hazardous and/or interference-prone operational privileges unless and until applicants successfully pass a more advanced exam.

But, those more advanced exams only contain questions that are DIRECTLY RELATED to safely and courteously exercising those specific added privileges.  And unlike our Extra and General Class exam pools, the bulk of the questions included in advanced exams in other parts of the world DON'T relate to operating privileges that have ALREADY BEEN GRANTED to lower-class licensees!

So, once again, I ask the basic question that everybody posting here STILL seems to be avoiding like the Plague:  What are the basic OPERATIONAL differences between the privileges granted to a General Class licensee versus those granted to an Extra Class licensee in our Service in the United States?

Keith
KB1SF /  VA3KSF


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: W5ESE on September 02, 2010, 07:36:26 AM

Most other countries in the world have long since purged such 1950s-era, systemically discriminatory "improvement" eyewash from the licensing and regulatory systems of their Amateur Services. Most have now moved to (or have maintained) a simple one or two-tiered licensing system based primarily on safety and/or non-interference competency considerations rather than on some 1950-era, self-serving, ARRL-inspired (not to mention clearly failed) idea of pseudo-educational "achievement".


Although it's true that many countries have a single-tiered licensing system, for most of the countries in the EU, this requires a single exam which is comparable in scope to combining the question pools of the three US exam elements.

It's much more than a simple exam on "safety" or "non-interference".

The document in full is at: http://www.erodocdb.dk/docs/doc98/Official/word/TR6102.doc

73 Scott W5ESE

ANNEX 6

EXAMINATION SYLLABUS AND REQUIREMENTS FOR A HAREC

INTRODUCTION

This syllabus has been produced for the guidance of the administrations so that they may prepare their national amateur radio examinations for the CEPT Harmonised Amateur Radio Examination Certificate (HAREC).

The purpose of the examination is to set a reasonable level of knowledge required for candidate radio amateurs wishing to obtain a license for operating amateur stations.

The scope of the examination is limited to subjects relevant to tests and experiments with, and operation of amateur stations conducted by radio amateurs. These include circuits and their diagrams; questions may relate to circuits using both integrated circuits and discreet components.

a)   Where quantities are referred to, candidates should know the units in which these quantities are expressed, as well as the generally used multiples and sub-multiples of these units.

b)   Candidates must be familiar with the compound of the symbols.

c)   Candidates must know the following mathematical concepts and operations:
   adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing
   fractions
   powers of ten, exponentials, logarithms
   squaring
   square roots
   inverse values
   interpretation of linear and non-linear graphs
   binary number system

d)   Candidates must be familiar with the formulae used in this syllabus and be able to transpose them.

EXAMINATION SYLLABUS FOR A HARMONISED AMATEUR RADIO EXAMINATION CERTIFICATE (HAREC)
a)   TECHNICAL CONTENT
1.   ELECTRICAL, ELECTRO-MAGNETIC AND RADIO THEORY
1.1   Conductivity
1.2   Sources of electricity
1.3   Electric field
1.4   Magnetic field
1.5   Electromagnetic field
1.6   Sinusoidal signals
1.7   Non-sinusoidal signals, noise
1.8   Modulated signals
1.9   Power and energy
1.10   Digital signal processing (DSP)
2.   COMPONENTS
2.1   Resistor
2.2   Capacitor
2.3   Coil
2.4   Transformers application and use
2.5   Diode
2.6   Transistor
2.7   Heat dissipation
2.8   Miscellaneous
3.   CIRCUITS
3.1   Combination of components
3.2   Filter
3.3   Power supply
3.4   Amplifier
3.5   Detector
3.6   Oscillator
3.7   Phase Locked Loop [PLL]
3.8   Discrete Time Signals and Systems (DSP-systems)
4.   RECEIVERS
4.1   Types
4.2   Block diagrams
4.3   Operation and function of the following stages
4.4   Receiver characteristics
5.   TRANSMITTERS
5.1   Types
5.2   Block diagrams
5.3   Operation and function of the following stages
5.4   Transmitter characteristics
6.   ANTENNAS AND TRANSMISSION LINES
6.1   Antenna types
6.2   Antenna characteristics
6.3   Transmission lines
7.   PROPAGATION
8.   MEASUREMENTS
8.1   Making measurements
8.2   Measuring instruments
 
9.   INTERFERENCE AND IMMUNITY
9.1   Interference in electronic equipment
9.2   Cause of interference in electronic equipment
9.3   Measures against interference
10.   SAFETY
b)   NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL OPERATING RULES AND PROCEDURES
1.   Phonetic Alphabet
2.   Q-Code
3.   Operational Abbreviations
4.   International Distress Signs, Emergency traffic and natural disaster com¬munication
5.   Call signs
6.   IARU band plans
7.   Social responsibility and operating procedures
c)   NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL REGULATIONS RELEVANT TO THE AMATEUR SERVICE AND AMATEUR SATELLITE SERVICE
1.   ITU Radio Regulations
2.   CEPT Regulations
3.   National Laws, Regulations and Licence conditions


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K7KBN on September 02, 2010, 09:18:39 AM
Must be one heckuva question pool!


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N0NB on September 02, 2010, 10:57:14 AM
Once you have an extra class license, you will understand. I agree you don't get very much more operating privileges, but it's like owning a Harley. You are a part of the 1% of hams that worked to become EXTRA CLASS.

You're watering my Extra Class license down to the level of a HOG?  Don't make me barf.  Don't lower me to the level of every two digit IQ self proclaimed tough guy who dons a pirate costume like millions of their two digit IQ brethren to somehow demonstrate their "individuality" like all the others.  There is no prestige to owning a HOG, just a demonstration of group think and being able to qualify for HOG Financing.

On the other hand, dig an old bike out of the weeds or some dusty corner of a garage (I don't care what make), clean it up, spend years getting just the right parts to make it right, ride it, enjoy it, be proud of your work, and you'll earn some respect.


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KB1SF on September 02, 2010, 01:17:28 PM
Although it's true that many countries have a single-tiered licensing system, for most of the countries in the EU, this requires a single exam which is comparable in scope to combining the question pools of the three US exam elements. It's much more than a simple exam on "safety" or "non-interference".

Go back and read my posts.  

I said "most" countries now base their exams on these precepts...not all.  And, just like there are still some holdout administrations that still require a Morse exam for HF access, for some time to come there I suspect there will still be those countries whose regulators view ham radio is a profession, not a hobby.

Quote
The document in full is at: http://www.erodocdb.dk/docs/doc98/Official/word/TR6102.doc

On the surface, this, too, appears to be massive overkill.

However, nowhere in his long laundry list of subjects does it specify to what level all this material is to be examined.  For example, are candidates simply required to state facts and identify block diagrams, or are they required to draw schematics as well as explain the purpose and interrelationships of individual components in detail?

It is also important to remember that, in order for every country to "buy into" all this "harmonized" eyewash, the content and comprehensiveness of the exam(s), must default to the MOST comprehensive license standards of all the countries participating.  

As I have said, there are some countries in the world whose regulators still require that ham radio be treated as a "professional" radio service rather than a radio service for "amateurs" ...that is, "persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest."

Remember, too, that a person seeking a reciprocal license in any of these CEPT countries can always just seek a reciprocal permit in the one or two countries they intend to visit.  Possession of a HAREC is not (yet) a hard and fast requirement for reciprocal operation.  

Also, as I read it, so far, only 36 countries (mostly in the EU) have bought into this "harmonized" nonsense.  Many others, like the USA, Canada, Israel, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa have told the ECO to "take a hike".

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N0NB on September 02, 2010, 02:33:47 PM
So, once again, I ask the basic question that everybody posting here STILL seems to be avoiding like the Plague:  What are the basic OPERATIONAL differences between the privileges granted to a General Class licensee versus those granted to an Extra Class licensee in our Service in the United States?

The honest answer is, "None.  None whatsoever."

The only real difference is when it comes to being a VE where the lower classes are too limited and it's too much of a pain to keep track of who's doing what.  Otherwise, beyond frequency limits the local Generals can do everything on the bands that I can do except for narrower sub bands.

You make a compelling argument, Keith, and one I'd not considered before.  Certainly, I think the ITU definition for our service is closer to the way the service was in the USA prior to WWII.  I certainly have nothing against learning as I believe it is a life-long endeavor.  I agree that the FCC's primary interesting in amateur radio operator exams should be compliance with the regulations, assuring enough technical knowledge to comply with the regulations and personal safety, and demonstrate familiarity with bandplans and modes to minimize interference.  The litmus test is, "Can the examinee demonstrate reasonable proficiency to operate the station within the regulated subbands and bandplans without causing injury to himself and without interference to others?"



Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KB1SF on September 02, 2010, 03:59:58 PM
The only real difference is when it comes to being a VE where the lower classes are too limited and it's too much of a pain to keep track of who's doing what.

From a practical standpoint, I agree, particularly if you are administering exams for multiple classes of licensees at one sitting.  

However, the fact remains that Generals are authorized to give exams in our Service. So, the argument that you need an Extra Class license to give exams just doesn't wash.  And there wouldn't be a need for an Extra Class license to give exams to other Extra Class License applicants if there wasn't such a thing as an Extra Class license!

Quote
Otherwise, beyond frequency limits the local Generals can do everything on the bands that I can do except for narrower sub bands.

And those "narrower sub bands" were all put in place by our FCC at the behest of our ARRL overlords of yesteryear.  There is absolutely NO international requirement...NONE...that such "regulated sub band" nonsense be in place at all.  In fact, nowhere else on the planet are our amateur frequencies as carved up based on license class and operating mode as they are in the United States.  

Most everywhere else, our Service is regulated by maximum emission bandwidth.  And hams in these other countries seem to have been easily able to accommodate everyone on HF (analog and date modes alike) within the broad ITU recommended bandwidths (6 KHz on most HF bands with the exception of 30 Meters where it's 1 KHz) by figuring out "what goes where"...on their own!  And, so far at least, THEIR skies have yet to fall.

I also have to laugh when I hear US hams in these forums perennially bitching, moaning and complaining about how our bands are always "too crowded".   Clearly, few of them have actually tuned across the LOWER portions of our HF Bands lately.  If they had (and were honest) I think they'd most likely find GOBS of empty spectrum space down there that was absolutely dead quiet and going begging.  

This leads me to believe that a lot of the so-called bad operator "problem" on our bands isn't that our bands are "too crowded".  Maybe the REAL problem is that there are too many rules (official and otherwise) that are carving up our bands into smaller and smaller chunks of horrifically over-regulated "turf".

As I and others have noted on numerous occasions in the past, there is more than enough spectrum space in our Service to easily accommodate everyone's particular passion.  As I see it, a big part of the "bad operator" problem right now stems from a horrendously outdated, FCC-imposed, license-class-and mode-based band planning scheme that shoehorns us all into our own little slices of walled-off "turf"…. separate little ego-stroked fiefdoms that are still based largely on operating habits and mode preferences that were popular back in the 1950s and 60s!

What’s more, because most HF Net Control Operators want to attract a lot of "customers" (particularly on 75 Meters) they tend to congregate their nets in the US General Class license portions of our spectrum.  Indeed, it is in these portions of the bands that most of the boorish behavior seems to be occurring.

However, what seems to perennially get lost in all these "isn't it horrible what we are seeing on our bands lately?" discussions is that such boorish behavior seems to only be happening in comparatively small portions of our bands...such as in the so-called "US General Class" portion of our 75 Meter Phone Band.  

We humans are social animals by nature.  So it really shouldn't come as a surprise that when more and more of us try and jam ourselves into smaller and smaller slices of over-regulated "turf", those attempts are bound to generate verbal "elbowing", catcalls, and boorish behavior as more and more people strive for dominance.  

Indeed, for the last 60 years, our FCC has built our entire licensing system on anointing a chosen few in our ranks with "exclusive" access to artificially walled-off slices of frequency spectrum.  And then we (and they) now wonder why we have seemingly endless "turf wars" and boorish, "I'm entitled" snobbery among many of those so anointed who actually bought into all that "I'm the great because my 20 WPM, FCC-administered Extra Class License says so" elitism.

By contrast, and most everywhere else on the planet, governments have left it up to we hams to decide "how much of what goes where" on our bands.  It's only in the United States that our bands are carved up into smaller and smaller slices of FCC-regulated, sub-band (and sub-sub band) "turf" based solely on license class and operating mode...NOT on that turf's popularity!

As I have also noted, most everywhere else the differences in our license classes are based on safety and non-interference considerations (such as power output, being allowed to build transmitters "from scratch", or being the licensee of a repeater or club station) rather than on granting ego-stroking, so-called "exclusive" access to smaller and smaller slices of bureaucratically segregated...yes...SEGREGATED....frequency spectrum.  

What's more, as a direct result of all our FCC-imposed sub-band (and sub-sub band) nonsense, radio amateurs in the United States are perennially forced to play "Mother May I?" games with the FCC in order to shift things around as our collective interests and technology changes.  This, in turn, means that our horrifically outdated regulated band plans are always going to systemically lag behind emerging technology and societal changes.

Frankly, I believe all this ego-stroking, "turf based" band planning nonsense has also been a major contributor to our collective hesitancy to embrace new communications modes as they come along.  That's because those new modes often don't fit anywhere in our current, FCC-imposed "straight jacket".

The bottom line here is that, just as when office space is divided up into little cubicles, the end result is LESS usable space, not more.  It also breeds an ever-increasing human craving for more "elbow room"....a precious commodity that our (by regulation) horrifically chopped up 75 Meter Phone Band  never seems to have enough of.

To the contrary, all the while we continue to allow a government organization (the FCC) who could absolutely care less about what we do internally to still remain in charge of those "who and what goes where" decisions for our Service, our band plans will ALWAYS remain woefully out of date with technological and sociological reality.

And the horrific overcrowding, catcalls, boorish behavior and "frequency wars" (such as what we seem to perennially witness on our (I say artificially) crowded sub-band segments such as 75 Meter Phone) will probably continue indefinitely.

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Certainly, I think the ITU definition for our service is closer to the way the service was in the USA prior to WWII.  I certainly have nothing against learning as I believe it is a life-long endeavor.

As do I.  

However, in my mind, enticing "learning" by stroking people's egos so the US Government can shove "nice to know" information up newcomer's finals one irrelevant test question at a time...and at the BEGINNING of that "life long" learning process where precious little of it has any practical, "hands on" meaning to such persons...serves absolutely NO useful regulatory purpose whatsoever.

In fact, and as I have clearly shown in other posts, erecting and/or maintaining such "needless regulatory barriers" to full access to US Government-administered Services like ours is now patently illegal under the US Federal Code.

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I agree that the FCC's primary interesting in amateur radio operator exams should be compliance with the regulations, assuring enough technical knowledge to comply with the regulations and personal safety, and demonstrate familiarity with bandplans and modes to minimize interference.  The litmus test is, "Can the examinee demonstrate reasonable proficiency to operate the station within the regulated subbands and bandplans without causing injury to himself and without interference to others?"

Bingo!

73,

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N0NB on September 02, 2010, 07:48:13 PM
From a practical standpoint, I agree, particularly if you are administering exams for multiple classes of licensees at one sitting.  

However, the fact remains that Generals are authorized to give exams in our Service. So, the argument that you need an Extra Class license to give exams just doesn't wash.  And there wouldn't be a need for an Extra Class license to give exams to other Extra Class License applicants if there wasn't such a thing as an Extra Class license!

Even though General and Advanced licensees can, by rule, be a VE, there is no requirement that the head VE must accept any and everyone who comes along.  Given a sufficient number of Extra licensees in the two clubs where I established and conducted VE session, there were already enough Extras to do the job without needing the services of other classes.  Then there comes the issue of whether they must leave the room when an element is administered that they're unqualified to give.  If they wanted to be a VE on my team, I encouraged them to upgrade first.

All that aside, in any license structure that follows, given that we have a volunteer exam system in place, presumably the highest grade of license, no matter what it's called, will be given the privilege of being an examiner.  Even if there were only a single class of amateur radio operator license I would expect the duties to fall on those already licensed.  Perhaps additional restrictions would be considered such as time licensed or some such.  Of course, conducting exams is a whole separate activity from on-air operations and all that is really needed is an understanding of the rules and procedures involved.


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KB1SF on September 03, 2010, 06:30:39 AM
Even though General and Advanced licensees can, by rule, be a VE, there is no requirement that the head VE must accept any and everyone who comes along.  Given a sufficient number of Extra licensees in the two clubs where I established and conducted VE session, there were already enough Extras to do the job without needing the services of other classes.  Then there comes the issue of whether they must leave the room when an element is administered that they're unqualified to give.

Again, all of this nonsense we VEs have to "jump through" to give US exams is yet more needless Part 97 overkill.  

I'm qualified as a VE to administer ham exams in both the US and Canada.  In Canada, VE's (they are called "Accredited Examiners") are allowed to give exams with only one VE present.  In fact, I've given Canadian ham exams in the back of restaurants and around people's kitchen tables...just like we used to do in the USA with our old Novice exams.  

Also, in Canada, there's no "VEC" middleman in the mix with reams and reams of forms, procedures, "VE Manuals" and other such trumped up eyewash.  We VEs deal directly with Industry Canada for all licensing matters.  And, best of all, there's no mandatory exam fee...unless you decide to take your exam from an Industry Canada official at an Industry Canada radio field office.  Most don't.

Now, there ARE provisions for VEs to be reimbursed for their services, but we are allowed to negotiate that reimbursement between the applicant and the VE.  I simply suggest that successful candidates make a small monetary donation (in whatever amount they feel comfortable with) to their local ham club.  That way, there's not even the appearance of a "payoff".

Also, when I fax a report of a successful test session to the Amateur Radio Service Center of Industry Canada in Ottawa on Monday morning, the new ham's call sign usually shows up in the Canadian call sign database on Tuesday...the very next day!   And even new hams can request what the last three letters of their call sign will be. That is, if a so-called "two by three" call is shown as being available in Canada's Available Call Sign Database, if the new ham specifically requests that call on their initial application form, it will usually be assigned....and, again, all at no charge.

Now, if this VE system all sounds "loose", that's probably because it is.  

However, maybe that's because Industry Canada well understands that we hams are primarily responsible for maintaining the integrity of our own radio service and they trust us implicitly to do so. For, just as with the rest of the regulations for amateur radio in Canada, Industry Canada has chosen to simply treat us all as responsible adults that are well capable of deciding amongst ourselves how our Service is to be run, rather than as a bunch of little children that have to be told, in eye-watering regulatory, Part 97 detail, what to do and how to do it in every situation.

Indeed, in the USA, our amateur radio rules are written in such a way that, unless something is specifically enabled by regulation, then it's prohibited.  In Canada, the reverse is true.  That is, unless something is specifically prohibited, then it's enabled.  This is probably why the rules and regulations for the Amateur Service in Canada constitute only a small fraction of the reams of needless "enabling" eyewash that's still contained in our Part 97.

Moreover, and as we have seen with our own US volunteer examiner system, if someone really wants to get around all these regulatory "safeguards" in our US VE system, there will always be ways for such persons to do so.  So why even have all that needless regulatory eyewash in the mix in the first place?  Again, I ask:  Who (or what) is benefiting from it all?

For example, I would love dearly to know how much revenue our 9 VECs generate each year just from test fees they collect in the USA.  Last year, there were some 30,000 new hams licensed in the USA.  Where I come from, 30,000 times $15 adds up to a whole chunk of change...almost a half a million dollars' worth.  And that figure doesn't even include those already licensed persons who paid test fees to those 9 VECs to "upgrade"!  I also know for a fact that our VEC staffers aren't working as "volunteers"!  This means that you and I do all the grunt work in the field while the VECs get paid for your and my "volunteer" efforts. Now, is that fair?  And what "useful regulatory purpose" does all that added VEC bureaucracy serve?

Unfortunately, this all begs yet another prickly question:  Isn't all that added Part 97 VEC nonsense actually contributing to someone's "pecuniary interest" in yet another direct conflict with the international "NON pecuniary interest" rules for our Service?

The bottom line here is that, when it comes right down to it, the integrity of the volunteer examiner process for our Service...in both of our countries...still largely rests on the integrity of individual VEs not to "short sheet" the system.  It seems to me that all of those Part 97 "safeguards" put in place in the USA to prevent "cheating" simply constitutes yet another (but apparently fiscally lucrative) self-serving bureaucracy that's been needlessly built around our Service.  

73,

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AA4PB on September 03, 2010, 07:45:22 AM
Sounds to me like the Canadian system is wide open to abuse. In the U.S. at least you'd have to courrupt several people, not just one.

For me, I prefer the U.S. VE system.


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: W5ESE on September 03, 2010, 09:57:34 AM

The only real difference is when it comes to being a VE where the lower classes are too limited and it's too much of a pain to keep track of who's doing what.  Otherwise, beyond frequency limits the local Generals can do everything on the bands that I can do except for narrower sub bands.


The other difference is if you travel in Europe.

The Advanced and Extra Class licenses confer operating privileges based on the "CEPT Full" harmonized license.

The General and Technician don't. The General license
used to, but doesn't any longer.

Holder of General and Technician licensed have to deal
with the licensing organizations in the EU on a country-by
-country basis. In some countries, you may enjoy operating
privileges, but not in others.

73
Scott W5ESE


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KB1SF on September 03, 2010, 12:39:50 PM
Sounds to me like the Canadian system is wide open to abuse. In the U.S. at least you'd have to courrupt several people, not just one.

Maybe so.  

But what does your statement also say about the integrity of people who volunteer as VE's? Are all of us now to be thought of as "sly and cunning and bear watching at all times"?  

And, these are just amateur radio exams, for heaven's sake!  We aren't being asked to guard Fort Knox, protect military secrets or assure national security.  

What's more, isn't our Service supposed to be "self policing"?  Whatever happened to that idea?  And even with all these silly (not to mention expensive) "safeguards" in the current US system, there have still been instances of abuse.  So why do we keep insisting on squashing (largely non-existent) "gnats" with "hammers"?

You may also recall we had a similar, single examiner licensing system in the USA for Novice and Conditional Classes of licenses for DECADES.  All of those exams were accomplished by mail, and somehow, our "sky" didn't "fall" back then. So, what's so significantly different now that it absolutely requires layer upon layer of "security" against (as you say) "corruption"?

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For me, I prefer the U.S. VE system.

Having administered exams under both systems for several years now, I firmly believe the Canadian system offers a far better balance between neccessary security and expediency....and all at a significantly lower cost to applicants.

73,

Keith
KB1SF /  VA3KSF


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AA4PB on September 03, 2010, 12:59:19 PM
When one person can administer and grade an exam in private without monitoring then the temptation is there. All it takes is someone who is hurting for some cash and somebody who has some and is willing to part with it.

Under the old novice/tech system the person administering the written exam didn't even need to be a ham. As I recall he had to be over 21 years old. The person taking the exam filled it out and then it was sealed and mailed back to the FCC for grading. If the person giving the exam knew electronics I guess he could have cheated by supplying the answers, but he didn't have an answer key.


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KB1SF on September 03, 2010, 01:14:07 PM
When one person can administer and grade an exam in private without monitoring then the temptation is there. All it takes is someone who is hurting for some cash and somebody who has some and is willing to part with it.

And there will always be "crooks" in every segment of society. 

But, again, has cheating on amateur radio exams EVER been a big problem?  Does the cost and complexity of the "safeguards" in our current volunteer examination system outweigh the perceived risk?  If someone gets a license fraudulently in our Service, won't they stick out like a sore thumb when they get on the air?  It seems to me harmful interference and boorish behavior on our bands poses a FAR bigger problem for our Service than the "corruption" of our amateur radio examining system.

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Under the old novice/tech system the person administering the written exam didn't even need to be a ham. As I recall he had to be over 21 years old. The person taking the exam filled it out and then it was sealed and mailed back to the FCC for grading. If the person giving the exam knew electronics I guess he could have cheated by supplying the answers, but he didn't have an answer key.

Maybe so. 

But once again, has "corruption" in our examination system ever been a big problem either then or now?  What has significantly changed in the interim that it absolutely requires all of these "safeguards"?

73,

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on September 03, 2010, 01:29:58 PM
You may also recall we had a similar, single examiner licensing system in the USA for Novice and Conditional Classes of licenses for DECADES.  All of those exams were accomplished by mail, and somehow, our "sky" didn't "fall" back then. So, what's so significantly different now that it absolutely requires layer upon layer of "security" against (as you say) "corruption"?

There was corruption in the American conditional testing system.  Faked credentials being one of them.  This is why the FCC required Conditionals to sit the General written and 13 wpm before sitting the Advanced.  Also, a FCC field office could call a Conditional licensee in at any time and for any reason to sit the General and the 13 wpm again.

I am uncomfortable with the Canadian testing system.  I've decided to sit the Advanced in a group examination (I'm not taking the class but will appear for the final.)  That way, I will not be alone with an examiner.  I decided to wait to take the Advanced rather than have to take it alone "Novice-style".

I also need to take the Morse.  Again, I've been putting this off because I'd rather take it in a group.  I might have to compromise and do the Morse alone because I have not been able to find a group Morse exam.

The VEC requirement that testing take place in an open, public place is safe and less intimidating for some people.  Also, three VE's at the minimum are necessary.  The VEC regulations are a lot more secure and safe than the AE policy.  I understand, however, that there are 1/10 the hams in Canada.  Also, Canada is a very large and often sparsely populated country.  Still, I think Industry Canada would do well to adopt some of the American safeguards.  The "Novice-style" testing should be an exception, not a rule. 


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KB1SF on September 03, 2010, 02:06:29 PM
I am uncomfortable with the Canadian testing system.  I've decided to sit the Advanced in a group examination (I'm not taking the class but will appear for the final.)  That way, I will not be alone with an examiner.  I decided to wait to take the Advanced rather than have to take it alone "Novice-style".

I understand and very much appreciate your concerns.  

For many years, I've run classes and administered numerous amateur exams on both sides of the US/Canadian border.  I've also administered Canadian exams to groups as well as singly.  And over the years, I've found that it's been helpful for me to be able to offer examinees a choice as to when, where, and how they take their exams.  

I've also found that, in the course of their study for these exams, people "peak" at different times.  It's very nice for candidates to be able to pick up the phone, call me, and have them come over to my house (or for me meet them at theirs) and administer an exam to them when they feel they are ready to take it...and not be forced to wait for a scheduled exam session in their town or city that may only be held once a month or so.

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I also need to take the Morse.  Again, I've been putting this off because I'd rather take it in a group.  I might have to compromise and do the Morse alone because I have not been able to find a group Morse exam.

And you probably won't.  

However, if you are ever anywhere near Sarnia, Ontario, I'd be happy to administer such an exam to you. I'm sure we could round up a couple of other local candidates to make you feel more comfortable!

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The VEC requirement that testing take place in an open, public place is safe and less intimidating for some people.  Also, three VE's at the minimum are necessary.

Unfortunately, where I live, rounding up three Extra Class VEs for a US test session to administer General or Extra exams can sometimes be a real challenge.  While we have never had to turn people away for lack of Extra Class examiners, we've come very close to having to do so on a couple of occasions.  

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The VEC regulations are a lot more secure and safe than the AE policy.  I understand, however, that there are 1/10 the hams in Canada.  Also, Canada is a very large and often sparsely populated country.  Still, I think Industry Canada would do well to adopt some of the American safeguards.  The "Novice-style" testing should be an exception, not a rule.  

Well, as I've said, "Novice-style" testing has been the "rule" for many decades in Canada.  And, so far at least, their "sky" has yet to fall.

73,

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on September 03, 2010, 02:11:11 PM
it's like owning a Harley.

Harley Davidson makes fine motorcycles, there's no doubt about that.

But my choice is a 1952 Vincent Black Lightning

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lCH5JgWCZY

73 de Jim, N2EY

"red hair and black leather, my favorite colour scheme"


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on September 03, 2010, 05:20:26 PM
There was corruption in the American conditional testing system.  Faked credentials being one of them.
 

Back when the Conditional still existed, I heard stories of cheating of various kinds connected with it. Such things as sending a well-known text for the code test, giving "hints" about the written test, etc.

But I do not recall a single documented case where there was proof of wrongdoing. Third-hand stories aren't proof.

However, I lived in a place close to an FCC office, so we didn't have many Conditionals around. Others' experience may be very different.

This is why the FCC required Conditionals to sit the General written and 13 wpm before sitting the Advanced.  Also, a FCC field office could call a Conditional licensee in at any time and for any reason to sit the General and the 13 wpm again.

I don't know if that was the reason, but it certainly was the rule. There was also a time when, if a Conditional moved to within the prescribed distance from an FCC exam point, s/he had 90 days to show up at an FCC exam session and retest. That requirement went away in 1954.

One thing is pretty certain: FCC isn't going to take back the job of test administration any time in the foreseeable future. (I rarely say "never", because I've seen too many strange things happen). So the question is: how can the VEC/QPC system be made better?

The VEC requirement that testing take place in an open, public place is safe and less intimidating for some people.

That's a very important point! Under the old Novice system, a would-be Novice, Technician or Conditional had the task of finding someone to be the volunteer examiner - and such a person might be a complete and total stranger, met in private. As you say, some folks might be intimidated by such an arrangement today. There was also the task of arranging a test location and time that was mutually agreeable - not always easy in some situations.

With the modern system, it's all open-to-the-public, previously-announced and accessible, just like the FCC exam sessions were. Except the locations and times are probably more convenient.

  Also, three VE's at the minimum are necessary.  The VEC regulations are a lot more secure and safe than the AE policy.  I understand, however, that there are 1/10 the hams in Canada.  Also, Canada is a very large and often sparsely populated country.  Still, I think Industry Canada would do well to adopt some of the American safeguards.  The "Novice-style" testing should be an exception, not a rule.
 

Wikipedia gives Canada's population as about 34 million, while the US population is about 310 million. There are about 694,000 individuals holding current unexpired FCC-issued amateur licenses. I'm not sure how many Canadian amateurs there are now, but if the per-capita rate was the same, there would be about 76,000 Canadian radio amateurs. I don't think there are that many.

Canada is larger in land area than the USA, including Alaska, btw. Of course large parts of northern Canada are sparsely populated, but so are large parts of the USA such as Alaska, Wyoming (WY's population is now less than AK's), desert and mountain regions, etc.

More important are the cultural differences. For example, most Canadians are baffled by the resistance of some people in the USA to health-care reform.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on September 05, 2010, 10:36:15 PM
It is not the business of the US Government to stoke your (or anyone else's) ego.  Our FCC is also NOT (and never has been) chartered as a degree-granting institution of higher learning.  

You can disagree all you want but the rule (97.1) is there, like it or not. If you want the FCC to change the rule then submit a proposal. Stating your disagreement with the current rules on e-ham isn't going to accomplish anything.

To quote from Part 97, Title 47 C.F.R. 97.1 is not a "rule," it is a General Provision that defines some generalities.  It is more a "definition" and an extremely general provision at that.  There are only five such items under 91.1 Basis and Purpose.

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Until the FCC changes the rules, they do have the authority and the responsibility to encourage the advancement of your technical education.

That is failing to understand what "education" is under 97.1 (c) which is quoted here:

"Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communation and technical phases of the art."

That can be summed up as POLITICAL BOILERPLATE phrasing, words which were inserted long ago (well before the 1995 bound Title 47 that I have), vague generalities which are "feel good" phrases to describe amateur radio in general, based on what it had become when those phrases were put into amateur radio regulations.

Nowhere in the Communications Act of 1934 nor the Telecommunications Act that followed long after, LAWS established by the Congress of the United States, is the FCC required to be either an "educator" or an academic agency established for "educating" anyone.  The job of the FCC is that of a REGULATING AGENCY, regulating and mitigating interference between ALL radio services.

It is a common mistake to associate TESTS with academic subjects, but a mistake nonetheless.  Many agencies give tests to applicants seeking licenses and permissions on a great variety of activities, crafts, professions.  A TEST is just a document valid for a certain date that an applicant has demonstrated certain knowledge to an agency by answering a test conceived by that agency.

Those who take a state driver's test, both written and behind-the-wheel are just demonstrating their knowledge and experience acquired PRIOR to a driver's test.  The only thing they can possibly educate themselves with are - if strangers to that state - the infrastructure and interactions with bureaurocratic employees of that state agency...neither of which are actual facets of DRIVING.  The applicants all KNEW the material and subject BEFOREHAND.

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At present, amateur radio is more than just talking on a radio. If it ever becomes just talking on a radio then in all likelyhood we will have to use FCC Certified radios just like the other services and you won't be able to design/build your own.

That is incorrect.  ANYONE may design and build their own or another's radio or other electronic apparatus, licensed or not.  There is no prohibition on that.  It is done and has been done for years by unlicensed persons.  The PERMISSION TO USE a radio TRANSMITTER is regulated by Part 97, Title 47 C.F.R.  That includes intentional RF emission in amateur radio bands as well as unintentional emission of RF energy in frequencies outside of amateur radio bands.  Several Parts within Title 47 C.F.R. have prohibitions on unintentional RF energy emission outside of their particular radio service allocations.

73, Len K6LHA
 


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on September 05, 2010, 10:43:57 PM

As I've said before, the way Industry Canada regulates our Service is essentially how the REST of the world has been regulating THEIR Amateur Services FOR DECADES.  And the "sky" in our Service in those other parts of the world has yet to "fall".

Unfortunately, most US hams are completely oblivious to the fact that the ITU has already established a set of band plans for our Service based on maximum emission BANDWIDTH vice license class and emission mode.  It may also come as a complete surprise to most American hams that many countries in the rest of the world LONG AGO simply embraced those bandwidth-based ITU band plans for our Service and let it go at that.

The rest of the ham radio world wasn't ruled by the ARRL...   :D
 
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It's only here in the USA that our bands were further chopped up by 1950s-era, ARRL-inspired FCC bureaucrats into smaller and smaller chunks of so-called "exclusive", artificially segregated spectrum space based on license class and operating mode.  And, clearly, all of THAT nonsense still remains firmly in place because it forms the principle "incentive" with which to stroke people's egos into "upgrading", thereby forcing compliance with their so-called "incentive licensing" stupidity.

I never bought into that.  My very first amateur radio license was Amateur Extra class.  <shrug>

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Now, clearly, moving to a bandwidth-based (vice license class and mode based) regulatory system is going to be extremely difficult.  That's because the latter (now thoroughly entrenched) nonsense still forms the heart and soul of "incentive licensing" in the United States.  It also underwrites all the regulated snobbery that still permeates any discussion of licensing (or licensing reform) in our Service in the USA.  For, once the FCC finally takes away all that exclusive bandwidth nonsense, what's going to be left (besides bragging rights) to "incentivize" people to "upgrade" all the way to Extra Class?

The answer, of course, is (gasp!)  ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!
I whole heartedly agree with that.  But, there is still the "extra bigotry" that many long-time hams practice because it boosts their egos.  They WANT all the rank, status, and privilege they "feel they deserve."  All of those will not let go of their emotions and embrace any idea that they are not special (dare I say "extra special?") amateurs.

Quote
That is, instead of proscribing all that frequency and mode-based sub-band (and sub-sub band) nonsense into eye-watering detail with enabling regulation, Industry Canada simply tells Canadian hams to adhere to the broad (very broad) frequency and emission bandwidth requirements specified by the ITU for our Service.  They then leave the rest of those "what goes where" decisions up to we hams to decide.

This approach has worked well for Canadian hams for decades, as, with very few exceptions, most Canadian hams are quite content to follow the voluntary IARU band plans for our Service. 

Why can't we?

NIH, Keith...Not Invented Here.  There would be something close to a revolution begun by the ARRL to oppose anything done better elsewhere.  The boys overseas in Newington want to keep on Running Things to suit them and their six-figure annual salaries (plus per diem, of course).  They cannot suddenly turn on some logic switch and do things differently than they did before...not with all those old ARRL publication copies lying around to prove they once thought otherwise.  Embracing a truly thoughtful future would make them out to be the Janus showing both faces to the world.  NOT a good image.

73, Len K6LHA



Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on September 06, 2010, 03:42:59 AM
There was corruption in the American conditional testing system.  Faked credentials being one of them.
 

Back when the Conditional still existed, I heard stories of cheating of various kinds connected with it. Such things as sending a well-known text for the code test, giving "hints" about the written test, etc.

But I do not recall a single documented case where there was proof of wrongdoing. Third-hand stories aren't proof.

However, I lived in a place close to an FCC office, so we didn't have many Conditionals around. Others' experience may be very different.

Someone who researches for a living should be a bit more diligent about citing his sources. :o 

"Volunteer Examiners: Photocopy of License Not Required" QST, April 1980. p76.

No link since the ARRL is quite explicit about its copyright.  But the entire QST archive til 2006 (moving wall) is available to members at http://www.arrl.org/arrl-periodicals-archive-search  Fascinating look into ham radio's past.

This is why the FCC required Conditionals to sit the General written and 13 wpm before sitting the Advanced.  Also, a FCC field office could call a Conditional licensee in at any time and for any reason to sit the General and the 13 wpm again.

I don't know if that was the reason, but it certainly was the rule.

Quite true.  I can't say for sure that the FCC's Conditional Class policy was a direct result of testing irregularity in the old Volunteer Examiner system.  However, I suspect that these safeguards were put into place as a corrective measure in the case of cheating or irregularity. 

Then again, there are no more hams with Conditional tickets, so we'll never know for sure.  And perhaps we shouldn't care, either  :)

73, Jordan   



Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on September 06, 2010, 05:06:15 AM
There was corruption in the American conditional testing system.  Faked credentials being one of them.
 

Back when the Conditional still existed, I heard stories of cheating of various kinds connected with it. Such things as sending a well-known text for the code test, giving "hints" about the written test, etc.

But I do not recall a single documented case where there was proof of wrongdoing. Third-hand stories aren't proof.

However, I lived in a place close to an FCC office, so we didn't have many Conditionals around. Others' experience may be very different.

Someone who researches for a living should be a bit more diligent about citing his sources. :o 

I'm not sure who you mean. I don't do research for a living.

"Volunteer Examiners: Photocopy of License Not Required" QST, April 1980. p76.

No link since the ARRL is quite explicit about its copyright.  But the entire QST archive til 2006 (moving wall) is available to members at http://www.arrl.org/arrl-periodicals-archive-search  Fascinating look into ham radio's past.

Yes it is. I happen to have QST in its original form, so I pulled that issue off the shelf.

What that story tells is that the FCC turned *down* a 1975 proposal to require volunteer examiners to send a photocopy of their licenses to a FCC when requesting test materials for a by-mail license. FCC felt they'd effectively solved the problem by making the Novice the only by-mail license.

However the article doesn't name any specific instance of cheating, just that "the Commission was aware of "substantial" abuses of the testing procedure".

Seems to me they didn't want to give away details, because they didn't want more of it. But it's pretty clear how the cheating was done.

Thanks for the reference - I'd forgotten about how the FCC had made only the Novice by-mail back in the 1970s.

This is why the FCC required Conditionals to sit the General written and 13 wpm before sitting the Advanced.  Also, a FCC field office could call a Conditional licensee in at any time and for any reason to sit the General and the 13 wpm again.

I don't know if that was the reason, but it certainly was the rule.

Quite true.  I can't say for sure that the FCC's Conditional Class policy was a direct result of testing irregularity in the old Volunteer Examiner system.  However, I suspect that these safeguards were put into place as a corrective measure in the case of cheating or irregularity. 

Then again, there are no more hams with Conditional tickets, so we'll never know for sure.  And perhaps we shouldn't care, either  :)

There's probably nothing that can be done, anyway.

But there are still hams whose current licenses are descended from the Conditional. What I mean is that the Conditional was phased out starting in 1975 by simply changing the class to General when the license was renewed or modified, similar to what was done to the Tech Plus starting in April 2000. 

73 de Jim, N2EY



Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on September 06, 2010, 05:37:29 AM
I'm not sure who you mean. I don't do research for a living.

I was referring to myself in an elliptical sense.  I'm a professional student (finishing my third degree).  So when I'm not wasting time on ham radio message forums I am often found writing citations and bibliographies.  At the very least I should know better than to throw around unsubstantiated claims. 

73, Jordan 


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: W8DPC on September 06, 2010, 10:49:05 AM
Oh, it's this thread again...  ::)


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KB1SF on September 07, 2010, 06:21:10 AM
Wikipedia gives Canada's population as about 34 million, while the US population is about 310 million. There are about 694,000 individuals holding current unexpired FCC-issued amateur licenses. I'm not sure how many Canadian amateurs there are now, but if the per-capita rate was the same, there would be about 76,000 Canadian radio amateurs. I don't think there are that many.

As of 3 September, there are 68,106 records in the Canadian Amateur Radio call sign database.

Quote
Canada is larger in land area than the USA, including Alaska, btw. Of course large parts of northern Canada are sparsely populated, but so are large parts of the USA such as Alaska, Wyoming (WY's population is now less than AK's), desert and mountain regions, etc.

More important are the cultural differences. For example, most Canadians are baffled by the resistance of some people in the USA to health-care reform.

This is yet MORE "we US hams are special" snobbery (along with yet another attempt to obfuscate the discussion by changing the subject).

Jimmie, it is a FACT that there are more hams in the rest of the world combined than there are in the United States.  

And almost half of OUR hams (49% to be exact) are Technicians who, with the exception of a few slivers of HF bandwidth, are limited to VHF and above frequencies where FCC-regulated "band plans" are all but nonexistent.  Indeed, as a Service, we've been coordinating most of "what goes where" on our VHF and UHF frequencies amongst ourselves in the United States for several decades now.  

And, that "sky" hasn't fallen yet, either.

As I've said, NOWHERE else on the planet are our HF frequencies as carved up with such over-regulated "sub-band" and "sub-sub band" regulated snobbery as they are here in the USA. And the last time I checked, signals from Canadian hams (and, indeed, those ham radio transmissions emanating from other parts of the planet) didn’t' stop at the US border.  

What's more, despite being able to legally operate "anywhere", most Canadian hams (along with most other hams throughout rest of the world) seem quite content to operate within the IARU coordinated band plans for our Service.

So, where's the beef? What’s so "special" (or heinous) about US hams that we absolutely NEED all that systemically discriminatory, FCC-regulated, sub-band frequency nonsense to keep us all in line?

I've always found it fascinating that many of those same people who perennially decry all the "creeping socialism" in our US Government now seem to be the same ones most vociferously demanding that our FCC indefinitely maintain layer upon layer of needless (and now patently illegal) 1950s-era. government-enabled "socialism" in our Service when it comes to "protecting" THEIR little fiefdoms of over-regulated "turf".

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF  


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K7KBN on September 07, 2010, 05:46:31 PM
Why whine here about the unfairness of it all?  Why not explain it clearly and succinctly to the FCC and ask them to change it to your liking?

Nobody here on eHam or any other forum can change things; the ARRL certainly can't.

Rather than post the same old statistics ad nauseam, take the problem (if you see it as a problem) to some body that has the power to change things.

Pat
K7KBN


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KB1SF on September 07, 2010, 07:46:28 PM
Why whine here about the unfairness of it all?  Why not explain it clearly and succinctly to the FCC and ask them to change it to your liking?

Like I said, the only "whiners" here are those Neanderthals who want everything in our Service to stay exactly as it was back in the systemically discriminatory 1940's, 50's and 60's.  

And having dealt with the FCC directly on a number of other issues, I learned long ago that "explaining it clearly and succinctly to the FCC" is a waste of time. They already KNOW their 1950s-era "incentive licensing" farce for our Service no longer passes muster with today's federal equal access laws.

They also know that if such sweeping regulatory changes were to be initiated by the FCC acting on its own, our highly vocal resident Neanderthals wouldn't go down without a HUGE fight.  And administering that fight would most certainly require far more monetary and people resources than the FCC has allocated to the Amateur Service right now to answer the avalanche of "requests for reconsideration" from the Neanderthal crowd that would most surely follow.  

What's more, for our FCC to seek such changes on their own violates one of the very first rules of the "big government bureaucracy"....that is...don't be guilty of initiating any change that has even the slightest chance of casting you or your agency in a negative light. It is far better to let "sleeping dogs lie" and wait to be told what to do from "higher up".  That way, you can use that direction as the excuse for your actions rather than take the blame for initiating such controversial change yourself. I know this to be true because I used to work in that same "big government bureaucracy".

This is why the FCC waited until the ITU made Morse testing optional in our Service before they took any action to do away with that requirement in the United States and why they directly cited that ITU decision in their own Report and Order that ditched all forms of Morse testing back in 2007.  It was far easier to blame someone else (i.e. the ITU) for that decision rather than to take on the full responsibility for initiating such highly controversial regulatory reform themselves.

This is also why ditching all the rest of their now thoroughly entrenched, 1950s-era, "incentive licensing" nonsense in our Service will, of necessity, have to be FORCED on our FCC from outside the agency...either as a result of a federal class action lawsuit, a GAO audit or Congressional action of some sort.  

And, while I certainly don't have the financial wherewithal to bring such a class action lawsuit myself, I (and a number of others) have already made our respective Congresspersons well aware of the issue.  Where it goes from there (and when) remains anyone's guess.

However, one thing is for certain.  It is no longer a matter of IF such sweeping regulatory reforms will be forced on our Service, it's now down to a matter of when our FCC will finally be forced into doing so.

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on September 09, 2010, 04:04:08 PM
Nobody here on eHam or any other forum can change things; the ARRL certainly can't.

Sure they can - it's just not easy.

In order to change the rules:

1) A clear, detailed and precise proposal needs to be written. Such a proposal needs to state, *in detail*, the changes needed, the reason for the changes, proof that the changes will benefit Amateur Radio, and how the changes would be made. An exact rewording of FCC rules is a good idea too.

Of course writing such a proposal isn't easy or quick, because all the details need to be checked and rechecked, and the whole thing done in a form that FCC is used to.

Also, the proposal must not require FCC to expend more resources than the current system.

3) The proposal must then be publicized to the Amateur Radio community, and widespread support developed for it. Venues like eham and QST are good for that. But such publicity must be 2-way: the proposal may have to be modified repeatedly to get widespread support.

4) The proposal is then presented to FCC. If it is any good at all, FCC will assign it an RM number and put it up for comments.

5) (This is a very critical step). The proposal must gather lots of support from commenters, and little opposition.

----

IOW, the person or group who wants change has to do a lot of legwork *before* submitting anything to FCC, so that when the proposal is formally presented, it's easy for FCC to enact it.

The problem is that hams usually skip most of the above steps. They either:

1) just gripe to each other

or

2) write and submit a proposal that is torn to shreds in the comments

or

3) write and submit a proposal that FCC doesn't have the resources to enact.

We've seen it again and again.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on September 10, 2010, 11:05:52 AM
Why whine here about the unfairness of it all?  Why not explain it clearly and succinctly to the FCC and ask them to change it to your liking?

Like I said, the only "whiners" here are those Neanderthals who want everything in our Service to stay exactly as it was back in the systemically discriminatory 1940's, 50's and 60's.  

And having dealt with the FCC directly on a number of other issues, I learned long ago that "explaining it clearly and succinctly to the FCC" is a waste of time. They already KNOW their 1950s-era "incentive licensing" farce for our Service no longer passes muster with today's federal equal access laws.

They also know that if such sweeping regulatory changes were to be initiated by the FCC acting on its own, our highly vocal resident Neanderthals wouldn't go down without a HUGE fight.  And administering that fight would most certainly require far more monetary and people resources than the FCC has allocated to the Amateur Service right now to answer the avalanche of "requests for reconsideration" from the Neanderthal crowd that would most surely follow.  

What's more, for our FCC to seek such changes on their own violates one of the very first rules of the "big government bureaucracy"....that is...don't be guilty of initiating any change that has even the slightest chance of casting you or your agency in a negative light. It is far better to let "sleeping dogs lie" and wait to be told what to do from "higher up".  That way, you can use that direction as the excuse for your actions rather than take the blame for initiating such controversial change yourself. I know this to be true because I used to work in that same "big government bureaucracy".

This is why the FCC waited until the ITU made Morse testing optional in our Service before they took any action to do away with that requirement in the United States and why they directly cited that ITU decision in their own Report and Order that ditched all forms of Morse testing back in 2007.  It was far easier to blame someone else (i.e. the ITU) for that decision rather than to take on the full responsibility for initiating such highly controversial regulatory reform themselves.

Small details on what went down in the very recent past:

The decision to remove the code testing for license applications was arrived at in 2005 principally with NPRM 05-235.

In the meantime, the FCC was wading through no less than 18 Petitions for Reconsideration of the "restructuring" Report and Order.

WRC-03, held in mid 2003, was the time of (so-called) "treaty" changes when Special Radio Regulation S25 (in regards to amateur radio) was re-written to remove administrations from mandating code proficiency testing and made it OPTIONAL to the administrations to decide to give it or not give it.

Before that, in 1998 the FCC's "restructuring" NPRM already contained a cap on code cognition rate to 5 words per minute, ANY class where code testing was mandatory.

The decision to remove code testing was already decided roughly 15 years before it became law.  Memorandum Report and Order 06-178 ending the code testing was already written by December 2006; It just hadn't been published as to exactly when the regulation would become effective.

The "professional amateurs" and neanderthal hams want to forget the recent history and jusr remember the "good times" of very long ago.  They have no future but their own and are oblivious to newcomers or the future of the amateur radio service for anyone else.

73, Len K6LHA  


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on September 11, 2010, 04:38:23 AM
To answer the original question:

Why not?

almost 90% of US hams now have either a Technician, General or Extra license, and that percentage just keeps growing. So we effectively have a 3 class system today. *Japan* has more!

As a percentage of total US hams, the Extra has been the fastest-growing for at least a decade (if you count Tech and Tech Plus as a single class, which they effectively are).

The Extra is the only license that gives full CEPT privileges, too.

Most of all, the Extra today requires only a General or Advanced and the passing of a 50 question exam where the question pool is publicly available free-for-the-download. The passing grade is 74%. Elementary school children have done it.

So what's the problem? I mean, really - if a person is deterred from becoming a ham because of the Extra license, how will they deal with things like putting up an antenna, QRM, RFI, etc.?

How low should we make the standards? Or is having *any* meaningful requirements too much to ask?

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KB1SF on September 11, 2010, 09:28:42 AM
Most of all, the Extra today requires only a General or Advanced and the passing of a 50 question exam where the question pool is publicly available free-for-the-download. The passing grade is 74%. Elementary school children have done it.

So what's the problem? I mean, really - if a person is deterred from becoming a ham because of the Extra license, how will they deal with things like putting up an antenna, QRM, RFI, etc.?

How low should we make the standards? Or is having *any* meaningful requirements too much to ask?

Jimmie, you STILL don't "get it", do you?

For the umpteenth time, it's not the "easiness" or the "hardness" of the Extra Class exam, the relatively low passing grade requirement, nor even the fact that some elementary school children have passed such tests that are at issue here.  Indeed, all of those facets of the Extra Class exam are very much beside the point...at salient point that you and your like-thinking buddies STILL seem loathe to want to directly discuss.  

Rather, it's the RELEVANCE of the questions on that exam when compared to the meager handful of added privileges the Extra Class license grants as a result of someone successfully passing that exam that is at issue here.  And it's THAT blatantly obvious disconnect that now makes our Extra Class license superfluous.

I'm sorry, but any way you cut it, asking 50 questions on an Extra Class exam that predominantly relate to operational privileges that have already been granted to lower class licensees is NOT considered a "relevant" exam by the mandatory testing standards now in place for the US federal service. And erecting or maintaining regulatory requirements that force applicants to successfully complete such largely irrelevant (and therefore unnecessary) exams in order to be granted full operator privileges in a taxpayer supported, publicly administered radio service such as ours is simply no longer legally supportable under the US Code.

What's more, Jimmie, you STILL haven't answered my "simple and direct" question as to what the operational differences are between the privileges granted to a General or Advanced Class licensee in our Service and those privileges granted to Extras.

Once again, could it be that (GASP!) there ARE none?  Why can't you simply admit this?

Indeed, anyone with half a brain and who honestly looks at all the irrelevant eyewash contained in our current Extra Class question pool can very clearly see that there isn't a shred of direct relevance...none...between the questions asked and the meager handful of (so-called "exclusive", predominantly HF-frequency-based) added privileges and Extra Class license grants.  

So, once again I ask: Why even have an Extra Class license in the mix in the first place?  What overriding regulatory purpose does that license now serve other than to stroke the egos of some over-achieving elitists by providing them with an opportunity to amass yet more bragging rights or give them yet another (largely meaningless) piece of "wallpaper" for their shack walls?

And if what's on the Extra Class exam contains information that is "absolutely vital" for every amateur operating on HF to know, then why is the mastering of all that knowledge postponed until one takes an Extra Class exam?  Right now, only 17 percent or so of US Hams have self-selected themselves to take that "final" exam.  To me, this means that the other 83 percent of licensees in our ranks are missing all that supposedly vital, "extra" knowledge.  This then begs yet another rather obvious question:  If all that "extra" knowledge is so vitally important for safe and courteous operation in our Service, why hasn't it been made a central part of our General (or even our Technician) class exams?  

For example, and as I have shown in previous posts, the current question pool for the Extra Class exam contains numerous internally duplicative questions relating to such things as satellite and ATV operation, both of which are authorized for Technician Class licensees. Again, shouldn't Technicians be demonstrating their knowledge about those (obviously important) subjects on their TECHNICIAN exams rather than having to "wait" to master all that knowledge for their General or Extra Class exams... higher class exams that, so far at least, some 49 percent of Technicians have told the FCC to "stick where the sun doesn't shine?"

The bottom line here is that, regardless of its "easiness" or "hardness", our Extra Class exam (and, indeed, the license class it feeds) serves absolutely no useful regulatory purpose other than to stroke the egos of the some 17 percent of US hams who now hold it.  

The Extra Class license serves no useful regulatory purpose because the preponderance of questions on the exam to get it (and indeed the operational privileges it grants) relate to knowledge requirements that have supposedly already been examined because their associated operating privileges have already been granted to lower class licensees. Therefore BOTH the license class and the exam one must successfully complete to get it are nothing more than "unnecessary regulatory barriers" (to use "FCC-speak") to people's full and equal access to all the benefits of our Service.

How you and your buddies can continue to credibly dance around, obfuscate (but, mostly, completely ignore) these blatantly obvious facts is quite beyond me.  But, fortunately, facts do not cease to exist simply because they are ignored.

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K7KBN on September 12, 2010, 09:11:36 AM
CEPT.


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2UGB on September 12, 2010, 10:31:51 AM
The entire licensing system is full of paradoxes.

Interesting that, arguably, the digital mode is the the most growing  of communication-forms on the amateur bands. A new General class operator has full access to the frquencies the band-plan recommends for those modes. A General need never upgrade to enjoy the access to all recommended digital frequenciies.

On the other hand, General class operators of 30 and more years who passed a 13 (and higher) WPM test and arguably a more difficult theory test in a Federal building in front of an FCC examiner, may not have full access to all the CW  frequencies the band-plan recommends. :-\

A reply of "upgrade" doesn't  address the paradox issue.


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K1DA on September 12, 2010, 06:55:02 PM
   N2EY, I doubt could PASS the old "write out 20 WPM" at the FCC office  before an inspector EXTRA.   If you REALLY want to make the tests mean something, stop publishing "cheat sheets" . 

   What's the hang up with folks who took the Extra, for example, before 1980 at the FCC office?  What don't WE know, how to make a "menu driven "no tune up" transceiver work?  How to hang a "brand name" factory made dipole.   Which end of an "automatic antenna 'tuner' " (love tuning those antennas)  to attach to the radio? 

  I didn't know "not having the WARC bands" made a radio a piece of cake" to tune up. 

K1DA  (don't think it was a "vanity", it was free)

   


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on September 13, 2010, 03:07:36 AM
   N2EY, I doubt could PASS the old "write out 20 WPM" at the FCC office  before an inspector EXTRA. 

Back in the summer of 1970 I passed the Extra tests at the Philly FCC office. And I could do it again if required - old tests, current tests, whatever. No preparation needed. BRING 'EM ON!

 If you REALLY want to make the tests mean something, stop publishing "cheat sheets" . 

What "cheat sheets"? More than 25 years ago, FCC changed the rules and made the Q&A pools available to all. It was their idea, and their not going to change it because it would cost too much.

   What's the hang up with folks who took the Extra, for example, before 1980 at the FCC office?  What don't WE know, how to make a "menu driven "no tune up" transceiver work?  How to hang a "brand name" factory made dipole.   Which end of an "automatic antenna 'tuner' " (love tuning those antennas)  to attach to the radio? 

I know all those things - done them, too. No big deal.

    I didn't know "not having the WARC bands" made a radio a piece of cake" to tune up.

Me neither.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N9KX on September 13, 2010, 06:09:16 AM


Like I said, the only "whiners" here are those Neanderthals who want everything in our Service to stay exactly as it was back in the systemically discriminatory 1940's, 50's and 60's.  


Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF

Keith, if you take an honest look -- you might find there are merits to both sides of this argument and that there are actually some very good people with bright minds who disagree with you.  do you really insist only the only hams who disagree with you are Neanderthals?  ::)

a motor vehicle test seeks to discriminate between those who possess the necessary skills to operate a motor vehicle and those who do not.  If you want to operate a motorcycle or big truck, the exam gets even more discriminatory.  if you are blind, you cannot operate a motor-vehicle.  the DMV discriminates against blind people.  that is a good thing.   

It may seem kind of silly that new Extras class licensees are granted privileges to operate in the 25 kHz CW segments of the bands when they have not passed a morse code proficiency test but that Advanced Class license holders like myself who have passed such tests do not have privileges to operate in there.  (not surprisingly, DX stations often flock there to limit state-side pile-ups and perhaps because they find a better 'class' of CW ops there(?)...)   But -- if I really want to operate there, I just need to pass the Extra exam -- which really isn't such a big hurdle, is it? And if new Extras want to operate there, they will struggle if they aren't 'up to speed.' (there are places down freq. where newer CW op.s find themselves most at home). The way it plays out, stateside hams who frequent the Extra only cw segments have pretty much earned the right to be there and Advanced class licensees like myself have not.

all that said, if things change such that there is only one operating class -- will you dance an evolutionary jig?
 


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KB1SF on September 13, 2010, 08:58:18 AM
...all that said, if things change such that there is only one operating class -- will you dance an evolutionary jig?

As long as that "one operating class" is sufficiently comprehensive (and limited) to helping insure new hams won't become a hazard or a nuisance to themselves or others, that would certainly be OK by me.

But it appears a lot of others in our ranks in the United States would never freely accept such a simple notion.  That's because to do so would also mean that (in their minds) all of their "earned", US government-bestowed, class, rank and status privileges (Advanced, Extra, etc.) from long ago immediately become quite meaningless.  At that point, the associated "bragging rights" based solely on one's license class in our Service would no longer have any regulatory underpinnings.

Fortunately, the people in our ranks who enthusiastically perpetuated (and/or embraced) all this government-enabled, so-called "incentive" snobbery over the last half-decade or so are now dying in ever-increasing numbers.  And (also fortunately) their deaths are now paving the way for long-needed regulatory reforms in the licensing and regulatory systems of our Service in the United States.

Indeed, just as Professor Doctor Max Plank, one of the most brilliant physicists of the 20th Century once opined, "A new scientific truth does not establish itself by its enemies being convinced and expressing their change of opinion, but rather by its enemies gradually dying out and the younger generation being taught the truth from the beginning."

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N9KX on September 13, 2010, 04:09:56 PM
...all that said, if things change such that there is only one operating class -- will you dance an evolutionary jig?

As long as that "one operating class" is sufficiently comprehensive (and limited) to helping insure new hams won't become a hazard or a nuisance to themselves or others, that would certainly be OK by me.

But it appears a lot of others in our ranks in the United States would never freely accept such a simple notion.  That's because to do so would also mean that (in their minds) all of their "earned", US government-bestowed, class, rank and status privileges (Advanced, Extra, etc.) from long ago immediately become quite meaningless.  At that point, the associated "bragging rights" based solely on one's license class in our Service would no longer have any regulatory underpinnings.

Fortunately, the people in our ranks who enthusiastically perpetuated (and/or embraced) all this government-enabled, so-called "incentive" snobbery over the last half-decade or so are now dying in ever-increasing numbers.  And (also fortunately) their deaths are now paving the way for long-needed regulatory reforms in the licensing and regulatory systems of our Service in the United States.

Indeed, just as Professor Doctor Max Plank, one of the most brilliant physicists of the 20th Century once opined, "A new scientific truth does not establish itself by its enemies being convinced and expressing their change of opinion, but rather by its enemies gradually dying out and the younger generation being taught the truth from the beginning."

...and may it always continue to be so!

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


what is this great scientific truth you see "Neanderthals" unwilling to change their opinion on?  that there should be only one amateur radio license class and not more than one?  bwahaha -- calling it a great scientific truth is funny.  

there are merits to both sides of this argument and your failure to see that unveils that you are over-stating your case (glorifying it even) because you evidently do not feel it has sufficient merit to stand on its own without demonizing its opposition.

I would like to see a "beginner" class, a "general" class and an "advanced" class, but I am looking at what I think is best for the hobby and not what is most cost-effective and easy to proctor in terms of administration.

The term "extra" seems silly in the absence of an "advanced" class between general and extra.  To incentivize learning and radio proficiency, I would limit transmitting over 200 watts to only those with the highest class license.

btw, I was born in 1962.  

73, de K9AIM ..

 


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on September 13, 2010, 06:13:09 PM
...it's not the "easiness" or the "hardness" of the Extra Class exam or the fact that some Elementary school children have passed it that's the issue.  Rather it's the RELEVANCE of the questions on that exam when compared to the meager handful of added privileges that license grants that is at issue here.
The only "relevance" that I can see is the continuation of stroking of egos among the, shall we say, "elderly."  This is the AGE OF ENTITLEMENT and all these extras feel they are absolutely ENTITLED to what they "worked so HARD for."  [as if none of us 'civilians' never "worked hard" at anything]  Ergo, the extra class MUST STAY in the class system.  To change it abruptly, even if by lawful means, would be tantamount to starting a revolution.
 
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Any way you cut it, asking 50 questions on an Extra Class exam about privileges that have already been granted to lower class licensees is NOT a relevant exam.  Moreover, requiring the successful passage of largely irrelevant exams for the granting of any class of operator license in a taxpayer supported, public radio service such as ours is no longer legally justified under the US Code.
Well, that may be a moot point.  As such it could be tried in a moot court...? :D

Given my druthers, I would have the HF bands open to all classes, the only subdivisions MIGHT be by mode such as to keep Data away from SSB voice.  There would be no subdivision by classes.  Further, I would raise the bar on extra class examinations:  Make it 200 questions.  If someone wants something extra, then lets MAKE it extra.  Passing those 200 questions gets one a TITLE of EXTRA, retaining some priority in vanity callsign selection, but NO SPECIAL PRIVILEGES in operation.  OK, let's make it necessary to have all-extra-class as VEs.  There, the extras can now have some TITLE to go along with their perceived "professional amateur occupation-avocation" but without actual RANK.

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Clearly, anyone with half a brain and who honestly looks at all the irrelevant eyewash in our current Extra Class question pool can very clearly see that there isn't a shred of direct relevance...none...between the questions asked and the meager handful of (so-called "exclusive" HF-frequency-based) added privileges granted.
There hasn't been any "relevancy" in having that extra class for decades.  It all boils down to the ego-stroking of Rank, Status, Privilege...which seems to have been the whole reason for the class-discrimination ranking in the first place.

RELEVANCY:  Consider the OOK CW cognition test.  The FCC had established - for decades - that any licensed amateur could OPTIONALLY select any allocated mode or modulation desired.  Yet the TEST for a license required the SINGULAR mode of OOK CW as a separate pass-fail test element.  There was never any cognition test for any other mode, only the International Morse Code.  Long before February 2007 the radio world recognized that the morse code was going out of use and style.  There was never any sense to preserve that ancient skill...except to keep the egos of those that had passed it long ago "properly inflated" so that they could say they were "better" than non-code-tested amateurs.  The only RELEVANCY was ego-boost. 

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So, why even have an Extra Class license in the mix in the first place?  What overriding REGULATORY purpose does that license serve other than to stroke the egos of some over-achieving elitists by giving them yet more bragging rights and providing them with yet another (largely meaningless) piece of "wallpaper" for their shack walls?
I submit that ego-boosting needs ARE necessary, Keith.  It is so ingrained in the psyches of modern USA radio amateurs that it will not leave easily or quietly.  OK, let's keep that ego-boosting Rank, Status, Title in-place and keep the pretense that those extras are really "extra."  But NOT, repeat NOT, give them a trace of operational eliteness.  NO special RF playgrounds where they can be alone among "their own kind."  They are EXTRA, so let them fend for themselves on the airwaves and PROVE just how "good they are."

Sure, it is totally meaningless regulations from an operational standpoint, but it keeps some peace by not outraging all those old extras from way back in time.  This country doesn't need any more civil suits concerning a few elitists' "rights" that they largely imagine they have.

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But now, looking back on all that 1950s-era nonsense, it has also become painfully clear that maintaining such a totally baseless hierarchy of ever more difficult “achievement tests” has served absolutely no useful regulatory purpose. Sadly, all this nonsense has done has been to reinforce and perpetuate blatant systemic discrimination and needless segregation into our Service.  That's because our licensing system hands those who believe for all the world that they are “privileged” more ammunition to look down upon those that, in their eyes, “aren’t”, based on nothing more than someone’s license class and/or whether or not they've taken a stupid Morse test.
There are two schools of thought on that.  The so-called "popular" view is held by the conservatives who are living a lifetime of entitlement.  They passed some tests of long ago that made them "entitled" to all that Rank, Status, and Privilege.  They LIVE that entitlement.  A few try to LIVE the times way back when they were still young and can't break away from the Peter Pan syndrome.  The other viewpoint is Moderate to Liberal.  They recognize that the future will be what WE make it to be and that things CAN be changed.  They aren't AFRAID of a different future than what they are accustomed to now. 

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My hunch is that, because there are far more lawyers in residence at the FCC these days than there are hams, there are fewer and fewer FCC staffers who are willing to continue “looking the other way” to perpetuate such blatantly discriminatory practices in our Amateur Service... especially in light of an ever-shrinking budget and the growing number of federal anti-discrimination laws that have come on the books since the late 1990s.
There should be FAR MORE lawyers in a regulatory agency than anyone can expect.  They MAKE the laws in the form of Regulations and all their releases SHOW the cognizance of LAW.  Any Memorandum Report and Order establishing a new radio regulation has that evidence.  Very few radio amateurs, especially those uber-conservatives of loved, cherished, and adored "CW" mode were so affected emotionally by their "loss" that they just couldn't bring themselves to actually READ R&O 06-178 with any proper understanding. 

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As I've also said, I have it on good authority that today's FCC staffers very well realize that their entire testing and licensing structure for the Amateur Service in the United States has become a class action discrimination lawsuit (or a GAO audit) just waiting to happen. Could THIS be why they turned a totally deaf ear to the ARRL’s stupid proposal that the 5 WPM code test be retained for Extras?
I don't think so.  What few staffers were assigned to the amateur radio service regulations were probably just overwhelmed with the responses and having to read every Comment and Reply to Comment submitted.  If anything, what they SAW from the uber-conservatives was the iconic parroting of old, trite ARRL phraseology that dated back a half-century before.  So little of that phraseology applied to today and certainly not to any foreseeable future.  The uber-conservatives' view of the "future" is just more of the same as what we had in the past.

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What's more, because the current Amateur licensing structure HAS become such a federal legal minefield, my guess is that this new crop of predominantly non-Ham FCC staffers have also now elected to incrementally (and very quietly) undo these glaring and long-standing injustices (not to mention the horrendous overkill) their elitist, Ham-licensed predecessors built into (and have since perpetuated) in our Part 97 over the years.
I don't give the FCC all that credit for prescience, nor of "walking in any minefield" of today.  What we have is a federal government that is under constant bombardment by all kinds of ding-dongs who WANT THEIR WAY and only THEIR way, even when they are opposed by OTHERS who want THEIR way.

Anyone working at the FCC a half-century ago is quite likely retired or dead by now.  There's been an almost complete turn-over by new personnel who have been exposed to all kinds of legal problems, much more complex than their predecessors of a half-century ago.

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By doing so, they are probably also hoping against hope that most people won't notice just how systemically discriminatory their predecessor's 1950s-era licensing and regulatory structure for our Service in the United States was when it was first enacted, and how blatantly illegal it has all since become under a whole plethora of US equal access laws.
To be fair, I don't thank many of the 1950 to 1960 time-frame could have predicted any of the social or legal upheaval in the USA that was just beginning back then.  As to relevancy in regards to technology of radio, there was ALREADY an enormous expansion in both basic technology and design methodology that was being USED in that time-frame.  One problem with radio hobbyists (which is what radio amateurs really are) is that they couldn't keep up with all those changes (unless they were also professional in electronics) and the League was very, very LATE in informing them properly through its massive publications. 

Of course the League was promoting the pre-WWII technology well past the pro-WWII times.  Their chiefs were also getting on in years and hadn't progressed themselves.  Just the same they "LED" the amateur radio nation in what they selfishly wanted and thus we got the constant propaganda of Avoiding CHANGE Whenever Possible.  A problem with the League is they just can't keep up with changing times and don't know what to do when times change.  The only beans they have are just re-fried fare served up as it was always done, perhaps with more garnish from jazzier printing of publicaations or (finally) a new website (designed by outsiders).

73, Len K6LHA


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KB1SF on September 13, 2010, 09:49:04 PM
there are merits to both sides of this argument and your failure to see that unveils that you are over-stating your case (glorifying it even) because you evidently do not feel it has sufficient merit to stand on its own without demonizing its opposition.

Unfortunately, there are no "both sides" to systemic discrimination. And there is no "merit" in any of it.

Either a the system of rules and regulations that govern our publicly funded, taxpayer-supported, government-administered Service in the United States are fair and equitable to all, or they aren't.  I've already cited numerous examples of how our higher class exams are internally duplicative and/or contain questions that have nothing at all to do with operating one's amateur station.  Or, far more frequently, those questions relate to operating privileges that have already been granted to lower class licensees.

So, how can all that needless nonsense be anything BUT an "unnecessary regulatory barrier" to full operating privileges in our Service?  How can our licensing system be deemed legally "fair and equitable" to all licensees (or potential licensees) if added operating privileges are arbitrarily and capriciously based solely on a person's successful completion of a completely unnecessary examination whose internal content validity is sorely lacking.

Indeed, under our current "achievement based", so-called "incentive licensing" system, I think our QPC would be extremely hard-pressed to even come up with 50 relevant questions for the Extra exam if those questions related solely to the meager handful of added operational privileges our Extra Class license grants.  

That is, beyond knowing where the "new" upper and lower limits of our so-called "Extra Class" exclusive sub-band (or sub-sub band) frequencies are as well as how to fill out an application for a so-called "exclusive" Extra Class call sign, there really isn't anything else left to examine!  That's why our Extra Class exam is "content invalid"...it doesn't measure skills or knowledges that are directly related (i.e. relevant) to the added operational privileges it grants.

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I would like to see a "beginner" class, a "general" class and an "advanced" class, but I am looking at what I think is best for the hobby and not what is most cost-effective and easy to proctor in terms of administration.

Based on what set of examination criteria?  What SPECIFIC operating privileges would you selectively withhold from General Class operators?  

Remember, General Class operators have ALREADY been granted access to our HF frequencies in the United States. So, again, what remaining operational privileges (besides access to "exclusive" HF spectrum) is left that you could use to legally differentiate between Generals and Extras?

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The term "extra" seems silly in the absence of an "advanced" class between general and extra.  To incentivize learning and radio proficiency, I would limit transmitting over 200 watts to only those with the highest class license.

First of all, the FCC has absolutely no business "incentivizing" anything!

Indeed, their horrifically bungled, 1950s-era attempt to "incentivize" learning by shoving it up people's finals one irrelevant test question (or Morse exam) at a time is precisely why their so-called "incentive licensing" nonsense has now become so systemically discriminatory (and therefore illegal) under US federal law.  

It is simply not the FCC's responsibility to "educate" a bloody soul. They are not a public or private university, college or some other "institution of higher learning". And under US federal law, they have never...EVER... been chartered (nor do they have the legal authority) to set themselves up as one.

Rather, the FCC is a taxpayer supported, publicly-administered, REGULATORY agency of the US government whose SOLE purpose in life (as it relates to the Amateur Service) is to simply insure the fitness of potential and current licensees to safely operate their amateur radio stations without causing harm to themselves or others (or causing harmful interference to other hams or other services). Period.

Now, that all said, limiting lower class licensees to transmitter powers below 250 watts or so just happens to be one of the handful of operational privileges many other countries on the planet (like Canada) use to differentiate one amateur radio license class from another.  Others include prohibiting lower class licensees from holding the license of an in-band repeater or club station, building transmitters "from scratch" or administering examinations.  

Indeed, unlike our FCC and their stupid "incentive licensing" nonsense, other governments specifically withhold most (or all) of these more potentially more hazardous or interference-prone operating privileges from lower class licensees until such applicants demonstrate...via a more comprehensive, higher class exam...that they are actually able to exercise those added operational privileges safely and without causing harmful interference.  

That is, most other governments on the planet base the differences in their license classes in our Service primarily on safety and non-interference concerns rather than on simply granting higher class licensees "exclusive" access to operationally identical (but yet artificially walled off) slices of frequency spectrum that lower class licensees have already been granted access to.

And it seems to me, all of this now begs another rather obvious question:  Shouldn't insuring the safety of ourselves or others as well as preventing non-interference to others in our Service (or other services) be deemed more important as a licensing criteria than simply artificially stroking people's egos and hoping they will somehow gain enough knowledge along the way to do so?  Indeed, what about the 49 percent of all the licensees in our Service (Technicians) who have told the FCC to stick their attempts at "education" via our licensing system where the Sun doesn't shine?  Indeed, at last count, only 17 percent of US hams have been "educated" all the way to Extra Class.  

Yet, as I've said, right now under our so-called "incentive" farce, even lowly Technicians (after passing a horrifically simple, 35-question exam) can do ALL of the inherently more dangerous and/or interference-prone things I've listed above (with the exception of giving exams) that are specifically withheld from higher class licensees almost everywhere else on the planet.  

Indeed, when one honestly compares the licensing criteria that underlies our licensing system with the criteria used in these other, far more safety-conscious licensing systems for our Service on the planet, the differences are truly mind-boggling.

That is, how can our, predominantly ego-based, so-called "incentive licensing" system...a licensing system that's clearly been running "open loop" for well over a half century when it comes to insuring the safety of its licensees and preventing them from causing harmful interference to others...now be regarded as anything BUT a horrifically dangerous way to run an "amateur" radio service?

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btw, I was born in 1962.

I have you beat by 11 years.  I guess that means I'm an bigger "OF" than you are, Hi!

Keith
KB1SF /  VA3KSF


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N9KX on September 14, 2010, 06:36:06 AM

Unfortunately, there are no "both sides" to systemic discrimination. And there is no "merit" in any of it.

Either a the system of rules and regulations that govern our publicly funded, taxpayer-supported, government-administered Service in the United States are fair and equitable to all, or they aren't.

your inability to distinguish between your opinion on this issue and what constitutes illegal discrimination is noted.  all tests discriminate between those who answer questions correctly and those who do not.  

Quote from: KB1SF
Based on what set of examination criteria?  What SPECIFIC operating privileges would you selectively withhold from General Class operators?  

Remember, General Class operators have ALREADY been granted access to our HF frequencies in the United States. So, again, what remaining operational privileges (besides access to "exclusive" HF spectrum) is left that you could use to legally differentiate between Generals and Extras?

In my proposal Generals could not transmit at powers greater than 200 watts output. they would be limited to their current HF frequencies.  i probably would grandfather/grandmother in present general class holders to operate at the power levels that were in existence at the time of their licensing.  

Quote from: K9AIM
The term "extra" seems silly in the absence of an "advanced" class between general and extra.  To [ ENCOURAGE ] learning and radio proficiency, I would limit transmitting over 200 watts to only those with the highest class license.

Quote from: KB1SF
First of all, the FCC has absolutely no business "incentivizing" anything!

Indeed, their horrifically bungled, 1950s-era attempt to "incentivize" learning by shoving it up people's finals one irrelevant test question (or Morse exam) at a time is precisely why their so-called "incentive licensing" nonsense has now become so systemically discriminatory (and therefore illegal) under US federal law. 

i changed 'incentivize' to 'encourage' since you seem to go AWOL when the word incentivize is used.  i am not suggesting it is the FCC's business to encourage or incentivize.  I am suggesting that the consequence and effect of having 3 license classes each with progressively greater operating privileges and knowledge requirements would be to encourage a knowledgeable group of radio enthusiasts in this great hobby we call ham radio.

so now -- what of my point that the term 'extra' seems silly unless there are more than 3 classes?  I would call the highest class of amateur license 'advanced' or some new term.

Quote from: K9AIM
btw, I was born in 1962.

Quote from: KB1SF
I have you beat by 11 years.  I guess that means I'm an bigger "OF" than you are, Hi!

Keith
KB1SF /  VA3KSF

perhaps.  just pointing out that you are not necessarily younger than those you tend to disagree with on these issues.  the 're-instate  mandatory cw' crowd is not necessarily the OF group in your imagination.  some who favor retaining the Extra privileges are not Extras who want to brag about their testing prowess or gloat over their extra frequency allocations.   this is 2010 and today some of us are younger than you and are not neanderthals LOL.  


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on September 14, 2010, 10:31:27 AM

First of all, the FCC has absolutely no business "incentivizing" anything!

Indeed, their horrifically bungled, 1950s-era attempts at doing so is why their so-called "incentive licensing" nonsense has now become so systemically discriminatory (and therefore illegal) under US federal law.  It is not the FCC's mission in the federal government to "educate" a bloody soul. They are not a public or private university, college or some other "institution of higher learning".  And under US law, they have never...EVER... been set up to be (or chartered) as one.
That non-academic bit can be seen in the Communications Act of 1934 and the Telecommunications Act of 1996, but here's what goes down in many minds:  These hams have FEDERAL licenses issued by the USA government and think they are really big stuff, radio-wise...and they don't hesitate to tell non-licensees how "big" they think they are.  Their braggadoccio doesn't stop even if they find out the "non-licensee" they are talking to just might have more under their belt of experience than they do.  :D

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Rather, the FCC is a publicly funded REGULATORY agency of our US government whose SOLE purpose in life (as it relates to the Amateur Service) is to simply insure the fitness of people to safely operate their amateur radio stations without causing harm to themselves or others (or causing harmful interference to other hams or other services).  Period.
In order to be granted an FCC license as an amateur radio hobbyist, all must pass a TEST.  TESTs are associated with schools to most folks.  Ergo, these hams ASSUME they've passed a "knowledge" TEST of high order.  Actually, the TEST is rather LOW order given the ability of modern electronics to possibly interfere with others.  It is the task of the FCC to MITIGATE interference.  The TEST (which is not that hard as myths and legends go) is simple a quick and easy TOOL to get a handle on whether or not a license applicant had, in the FCC's opinion, sufficient smarts to qualify for a license grant.

No one can possibly stop any radio user from doing something STUPID like electrocuting themselves and a TEST surely cannot enforce that.  The scientific jury is still undecided on whether or not high levels of HF radio energy can "hurt" themselves or neighbors...it is a relatively modern regulation and probably based just a cut above practical for "radiation hysteria" forced on us by the US Congress to include those radiation laws.

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Now, that all said, limiting lower class licensees to transmitter powers below 250 watts or so just happens to be one of the operational privileges many other countries on the planet (like Canada) use to differentiate one amateur radio license class from another.  Others include prohibiting lower class licensees from holding the license of an in-band repeater or club station, building transmitters "from scratch" and administering examinations.
There is NO good way to ENFORCE the RF output regulation out of an amateur transmitter...short of getting a Warrant to search a QTH and then physically measuring that power output is simply UNREASONABLE.  All that could be done is to limit sales ACROSS STATE LINES of transmitters with high power outputs.  Can you imagine the CO$T of even half a million Warrants to search and measure RF transmitters to radio amateurs?  It would probably double the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau budget if that was required!  Maybe triple it?  It wouldn't wash with the DC bean counters.

Frankly, I'm not pleased with all the references to Industry Canada's regulations as being all that spiffy for amateur radio.  Some things are good, but not ALL of them.  The population of the state of California is only a couple million or so less than all of Canada yet this state has 96,904 "active" licensees.  Nearly all of those licensees in this state got their license grants under the USA system.

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Quote:  "btw, I was born in 1962."

I have you beat by 11 years.  I guess that just means I'm an bigger "OF" than you!
I'll see you both and Call.  I was born in 1932.  Thanks for the game!  :D

73, Len K6LHA


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KB1SF on September 14, 2010, 03:03:41 PM
Your inability to distinguish between your opinion on this issue and what constitutes illegal discrimination is noted.

And your apparent inability to grasp what the term "legally systemically discriminatory" means and/or how it applies to the exams in our Service is duly noted as well.  

I suggest you may want to look at: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&defl=en&q=define:systemic+discrimination&sa=X&ei=g_KPTJ_jPKeynAeqgOmzDA&ved=0CBIQkAE for a couple of definitions.

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All tests discriminate between those who answer questions correctly and those who do not.

While it is certainly true that "all tests discriminate", there is a VAST difference between legal and illegal "discrimination", particularly when it comes to administering federal exams for federal licenses.  If the questions on an exam relate to knowledges and skills that have little or nothing at all to do with the added privileges granted, then whether or not you "answer the quesiton correctly" becomes moot when determining whether an exam is a valid (and therefore legal) measurement tool.

Indeed, in the US federal service, in order for test questions (and indeed entire exams) that grant access to federally administered programs like amateur radio to be "legally discriminatory", those exams must measure skills and knowledges that relate DIRECTLY to the (added privileges) granted. If they don't,...in even the slightest way...then they are illegal.

And, as I have very clearly shown in numerous previous posts, the exams for BOTH our General and Extra Class licenses are bogus because the examination questions they contain measure an overwhelming preponderance of skills and knowledges related to operational privileges that have either already been granted to lower class licensees, or they do not relate in any way to the added privileges the resulting licenses grant.

For example, there's a whole group of questions in the Extra Class exam pool about administering amateur radio exams.  And while Technicians are prohibited from administering exams in our Service in the United States, General Class operators certainly can.  So, why are these questions in the Extra Class question pool?  If General Class operators have already been granted those privileges, shouldn't those questions be in the General Class question pool?

There are also lots of questions in the Extra Class question pool about satellite operation.  However, both Technicians and Generals have already been given operating privileges on our amateur radio satellites.  Indeed, most of our satellites have uplinks and downlinks in the VHF and UHF bands…frequency bands where Technicians and Generals can already operate. I know this to be true because I regularly talk to a lot of US Technicians and Generals who are operating via our fleet of amateur radio satellites. So, once again, why are such questions reserved for the Extra Class question pool?

There's a group of questions relating to ATV operation in the Extra Class pool as well. But, even Technicians can legally run an ATV station.  And what does ATV operation have to do with operating in the last few KHz of so-called "exclusive" bandwidth on our HF CW and Phone bands? Unless I'm mistaken, even Extras can't run ATV on HF!  So, once again, why is a working knowledge of this information been made an examination prerequisite for obtaining an Extra Class license?

Then there's a question in the Extra Class exam pool that reads, "When using a transceiver that displays the carrier frequency of phone signals, which of the following displayed frequencies will result in a normal USB emission being within the band?"  Once again, even Technician Class licensees have phone privileges on our VHF and UHF bands…as well as on 10 Meters.  And the last time I checked, 10 Meters was still an HF band.

Another Extra Class exam pool question asks, "What is a remotely controlled station?"  Once again, Technicians and Generals are already allowed to control their stations remotely.  So, why is this question in the Extra Class question pool?  Shouldn't Technicians have a working knowledge of such things?

There are also numerous questions relating to contest operation on the Extra Class exam. Technicians and Generals are already allowed to operate in contests…and many regularly do. Indeed, this last weekend I worked a number of Technicians operating on 6m, 2m and 70 CM sideband in the ARRL September VHF contest.  So, once again, why is this question in the Extra Class exam pool?

There are a number of questions on the Extra Class relating to Packet operation.  Once again, Technicians and Generals can already operate in that mode.  Even though Packet radio is all but dead in many locales, many Technician and General Class hams still use Packet radio for DX spotting.

Another question asks: "What is the approximate maximum separation along the surface of the Earth between two stations communicating by moonbounce?"  I know of SCORES of Technicians and Generals who have bounced their signals off the Moon over the years.  So that activity is not exclusively reserved for Extra Class operators, either.

Then there's the question in the Extra Class exam pool that asks: "What is the effect of excessive phase noise in the local oscillator section of a receiver?" This one is really a "head scratcher".  That's because the last time I checked, NO license of ANY kind was required in our Service to either build or operate a receiver that tunes the amateur bands.  So, once again, why is this question included in ANY of our exam pools?

And, finally, there's yet another Extra Class exam question that asks, "On what frequencies are spread spectrum transmissions permitted?"  The correct answer, of course, is: "Above 222 MHz".  But, here again, even Technicians are allowed to freely operate using spread spectrum techniques "above 222 MHz".  And, once again, what does 220 MHz operation have to do with examining one's fitness to transmit in the last few KHz of our HF bands?

I could go on and on.  But even this small sampling of questions pulled at random from the Extra Class exam pool should be enough to very clearly show that there appears to be an overwhelming preponderance of questions contained therein which measure skills and knowledges that relate to operating privileges that have already been granted to lower class licensees or that don't directly relate to examining one's fitness to operate their amateur stations in the last few KHz of our HF bands.  

But, rather than take my word on any of this, Pat, I suggest you and your like-thinking buddies now go back and take your own online practice Extra Class examinations.  And, while you are doing so, I snuggest you ask yourselves: "What does this (or that) question specifically have to do with the meager handful of Extra Class operating privileges our Extra Class license now grants?"

Once you do, and you are honest with your answers to the (rather inconvenient) quesiton I've posed above, maybe…just maybe…you'll begin to understand where I'm coming from.

But, then again, I'm not holding my breath.  That's because it is also now become painfully apparent that I'm trying to rationally discuss these rather complex legal and human measurement precepts with people who simply don't have the faintest clue about what systemic discrimination is nor what test and measurement theory is all about.  

Obviously, such people are simply not capable of fully understanding that there is a vast difference between the content and comprehensiveness of a legal versus illegal examination in the US federal service.

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on September 14, 2010, 05:14:39 PM
For example, there's a whole group of questions in the Extra Class exam pool about administering amateur radio exams.  And while Technicians are prohibited from administering exams in our Service in the United States, General Class operators certainly can.  So, why are these questions in the Extra Class question pool?  If General Class operators have already been granted those privileges, shouldn't those questions be in the General Class question pool?

VE questions are only on the Extra exam for good reason.  There's a tacit rule that it's best to have as many Extra VEs on a team as possible so that each team member can grade any exam and take care of any bit of paperwork.  Yes, Generals and Advanced have limited status in the testing system.  The vast majority of VEs are Extras because of their flexibility.  The US VECs could go to the Canadian model.  A Canadian ham must hold all three qualifications to be an AE.  IC's policy is explicitly discriminatory while the VEC policy is theoretically inclusive but limited to the full license in practice.  VEC discrimination is implicit, but at least it does not stipulate hard barriers.

The QPC's decision to limit VE questions to the Extra test is a pragmatic decision based on the proven success of the VE system.  Unless the American testing structure is radically changed the emphasis on Extra VEs should not change.   

I am certain that almost all of us have experienced questions of seniority in our professions.  Is any employee entitled to run the organization even if he/she does not have the credentials and life experience?  Why then must you insist on a legal egalitarianism that impedes efficient VE testing?  The VE system, as is, provides an efficient, ethical, and (almost always) well run system that is a marked improvement over the old FCC testing.  Let's keep going with what we've got, come what may.

73, Jordan 


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on September 15, 2010, 02:51:00 AM
The QPC's decision to limit VE questions to the Extra test is a pragmatic decision based on the proven success of the VE system.  Unless the American testing structure is radically changed the emphasis on Extra VEs should not change.

This brings up a good point.

The Q&A used for all three US license tests are processed by the Question Pool Committee (QPC). Anybody can submit proposed Q&A to the QPC for inclusion in the various Q&A pools, which are updated on a regular schedule, plus when the rules change. FCC reviews and approves the pools, but the main work is done by amateurs, not the FCC.

IOW, if anyone wants to change the pools, there's a way to do it: Submit new Q&A to the QPC. No muss, no fuss.

Except it's a bit of work, and the QPC or FCC may say no.

The thing to always remember about online forums is that most of them let almost anyone post almost anything, without any proof, fact-checking or logic-checking. People can post their personal opinions as unassailable truths even though there's no factual or logical basis to those opinions. They can employ every logical fallacy in the book with impunity, and never let reality stand in the way. 

For example, a while back there was an article here on eham in which the author claimed that "antenna tuners" located in the shack creat a match to the transmission line by dissipating all the reflected power as heat, mostly in the "tuner". He claimed that the ONLY way to have an efficient system was to match at the antenna, and that all other systems were worthless.

Others showed that this wasn't the case at all, citing transmission-line theory, conjugate matching, loss calculations, practical examples and much more.

None of it mattered to the OP, he had worked as a professional broadcast engineer and he knew he was right. IOW, he didn't let others confuse his rant with facts.

I am certain that almost all of us have experienced questions of seniority in our professions.  Is any employee entitled to run the organization even if he/she does not have the credentials and life experience?  Why then must you insist on a legal egalitarianism that impedes efficient VE testing?

I'm not sure what you mean.

The VE system isn't a job; the hams involved are all volunteers who do it for the good of Amateur Radio. While their expenses may be partially reimbursed, nobody I know of makes a living or even a side income from the VE system itself.

Seniority is only one qualification, there are many others. Usually the person in charge isn't there because of seniority alone.

If someone wants to be a VE, getting an Extra isn't an unreasonable requirement, IMHO.

 The VE system, as is, provides an efficient, ethical, and (almost always) well run system that is a marked improvement over the old FCC testing.  Let's keep going with what we've got, come what may.  

I think the old FCC-run system of the 1970s was the best. FCC ran exam sessions in their field offices, and also sent traveling examiners to hamfests, club meetings, etc., upon request and the promise of a certain number of examinees.

The testing was free, the tests themselves were secret, and the whole system worked very well. Only real problem was that it cost a few tax dollars to run.

But whether it was better or worse doesn't really matter, because the VE system isn't going away nor changing much any time soon. There's no compelling reason for FCC to change it, and lots of compelling reasons not to.

73 de Jim, N2EY

"It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard... is what makes it great." (Tom Hanks as Jimmy Dugan in "A League Of Their Own")


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on September 15, 2010, 04:16:25 AM
I am certain that almost all of us have experienced questions of seniority in our professions.  Is any employee entitled to run the organization even if he/she does not have the credentials and life experience?  Why then must you insist on a legal egalitarianism that impedes efficient VE testing?

I'm not sure what you mean.

The VE system isn't a job; the hams involved are all volunteers who do it for the good of Amateur Radio. While their expenses may be partially reimbursed, nobody I know of makes a living or even a side income from the VE system itself.

If someone wants to be a VE, getting an Extra isn't an unreasonable requirement.

What I'm trying to get at is this: I'm sure that most people have had an experience (work's just a handy example) where the hierarchial distinctions of power and abilities appear at first to be arbitrary.  Sometimes that can even seem unfair.  Nevertheless, no paid or volunteer organization would run well if everyone exercised (or forced) an anarchical prerogative to exercise authority over every action.  The VE system has a purposeful and effective hierarchy even though it is a volunteer organization.  The frequent restriction of VE teams to Extras and the absolute requirment that contributors to the Extra question pool must be Extras provide obvious structural benefits to VECs and the QPC.  Keith's position that VE questions should be on the General ignores the obvious benefits of Extras as the primary and preferred VEs and Generals and Advanceds as secondary VEs.

  The VE system, as is, provides an efficient, ethical, and (almost always) well run system that is a marked improvement over the old FCC testing.  Let's keep going with what we've got, come what may.

I think the old FCC-run system of the 1970s was the best. FCC ran exam sessions in their field offices, and also sent traveling examiners to hamfests, club meetings, etc., upon request and the promise of a certain number of examinees.

The testing was free, the tests themselves were secret, and the whole system worked very well. Only real problem was that it cost a few tax dollars to run.

But whether it was better or worse doesn't matter, because the VE system isn't going away nor changing much any time soon. There's no compelling reason to change it, and lots of compelling reasons not to.

Considering that I was barely sentient when the transition to the VE system took place, I'll take your word for it.  I was referring mostly to the extreme flexibility of test dates (the FCC could never match the VEC on that point) and the economic and financial benefits of a volunteer testing organization.  We've lost something on the achievement side, but it sure is great to have five testing choices within a 50 mile radius any Saturday. 

Heck, I should never compare since I wasn't alive for the FCC testing and never volunteered to be a VE.  Maybe I should pitch in for a few sessions before making any judgments.

73, Jordan 


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: W3HF on September 15, 2010, 05:55:39 AM
The VE system isn't a job; the hams involved are all volunteers who do it for the good of Amateur Radio. While their expenses may be partially reimbursed, nobody I know of makes a living or even a side income from the VE system itself.

I know this isn't what you meant, but there are persons who "make a living" from the current VE system, though not as VEs. At least two of the VECs are corporations. Although the corporations are non-profit, they have employees who are paid. I'm not sure of the responsibilities of the paid employees at W5YI--because W5YI also provides testing for commercial licenses, I don't know if any employees are solely employed for the (amateur) VEC. But there clearly are employees in Newington whose primary job is to address licensing issues within the VEC and process the amateur radio applications that go through ARRL VEC (almost 25,000 last calendar year).


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on September 15, 2010, 03:46:38 PM
What I'm trying to get at is this: I'm sure that most people have had an experience (work's just a handy example) where the hierarchial distinctions of power and abilities appear at first to be arbitrary.  Sometimes that can even seem unfair.  Nevertheless, no paid or volunteer organization would run well if everyone exercised (or forced) an anarchical prerogative to exercise authority over every action.


I see your point. Even in organizations that pride themselves on their egalitarian principles, there's are committees that do the specialized stuff, and a respect for what has worked in the past and what is working well now.

The VE system has a purposeful and effective hierarchy even though it is a volunteer organization.  The frequent restriction of VE teams to Extras and the absolute requirment that contributors to the Extra question pool must be Extras provide obvious structural benefits to VECs and the QPC.

Maybe. OTOH, there's the downside that it may limit the number of VEs compared to what there would otherwise be.

Of course the bigger question is: if someone wants to be a full-fledged VE, why not just get an Extra and be done with it? For more than 10 years, all a General or Advanced has had to do to get an Extra is pass a 50 question multiple-choice written exam.

The issue of what questions belong on which test is really a matter for the QPC. However, we must be careful of the Rule of Unintended Consequences.

It would be a straightforward exercise to look at the privileges of each license class, and the existing question pools, and then reassign the questions to be perfectly aligned with the privileges of each class. For example, since Technicians have full privileges above 30 MHz, each and every question about operation on those bands would move to the Technician question pool. A considerable number of HF questions would move too.

And since Generals have almost full HF privileges, all the questions not directly connected to the Extra-only privileges would move to the General pool.

What you'd wind up with is an enormous question pool for the Technician, which would mean the test would have to expand as well - maybe to 50, 75 or 100 questions. Something similar would happen to the General pool as well. Meanwhile the Extra pool would shrink.

The end result is that a prospective ham would be faced with a very steep learning curve just to get an entry-level license, while the steps up the ladder would get easier as one went higher. I don't think that's the way to encourage growth in amateur radio.

I think the old FCC-run system of the 1970s was the best. FCC ran exam sessions in their field offices, and also sent traveling examiners to hamfests, club meetings, etc., upon request and the promise of a certain number of examinees.

The testing was free, the tests themselves were secret, and the whole system worked very well. Only real problem was that it cost a few tax dollars to run.

But whether it was better or worse doesn't matter, because the VE system isn't going away nor changing much any time soon. There's no compelling reason to change it, and lots of compelling reasons not to.

Considering that I was barely sentient when the transition to the VE system took place, I'll take your word for it.

You don't have to do that. Just consider the two systems on their merits. FCC's traveling road show was all over the place.

But the system I called "the best" was only in place for a few years. 

I was referring mostly to the extreme flexibility of test dates (the FCC could never match the VEC on that point) and the economic and financial benefits of a volunteer testing organization.

You'd be surprised. FCC would send an examiner almost anywhere if there were as few as 10 examinees. Hamfests of any size had FCC teams. There were FCC offices in many major cities, too. And it was all free.

We've lost something on the achievement side, but it sure is great to have five testing choices within a 50 mile radius any Saturday. 

That's true where you are, but it's hardly the rule across the USA. The problem of access in sparsely-populated areas remains. The various VECs are under no obligation to cover the USA evenly, or anything like it. I have read stories of hams who live in rural areas having to wait weeks or months for a VE session that's closer than several hours' drive away.

In any event, it's a moot point, because the VE system isn't going away. So the important question is: How can we improve it?

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N9KX on September 15, 2010, 04:34:44 PM

In any event, it's a moot point, because the VE system isn't going away. So the important question is: How can we improve it?

73 de Jim, N2EY

There you go again -- trying to be constructive in a place frequented by those who like to rant & rave.  ;D


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on September 15, 2010, 04:53:11 PM

In any event, it's a moot point, because the VE system isn't going away. So the important question is: How can we improve it?

73 de Jim, N2EY

There you go again -- trying to be constructive in a place frequented by those who like to rant & rave.  ;D

Sorry - just can't stop myself sometimes.....

---

btw, I was born in 1954. More important, I earned my first amateur radio license in 1967, and by 1970 was an Extra. Would have done it sooner but nobody in my family and neighborhood was a ham, and there was a 2 year experience requirement for Extra back then.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KD8HMO on September 15, 2010, 08:48:17 PM
So why not make this simple? Just give generals the extra privileges and do away with the general class or extra class and re-name the new class. I dont  understand what the big deal is. There is nothing different or special going on over in the extra portion of the band that I am not doing in the general portion. This whole deal is just plain silly. I want the FCC to explain their inaction on this...


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on September 16, 2010, 04:04:36 AM
So why not make this simple? Just give generals the extra privileges and do away with the general class or extra class and re-name the new class. I dont  understand what the big deal is. There is nothing different or special going on over in the extra portion of the band that I am not doing in the general portion. This whole deal is just plain silly. I want the FCC to explain their inaction on this...

You'll wait a very long time for that explanation.

FCC looked at the whole situation back in the late 1990s and decided that three license classes (Tech Gen Extra) was the right number. And we've been moving towards that ever since. Tech and Tech Plus merged, while Novice and Advanced are going away by attrition. We are almost to the point where 9 out of 10 US hams with unexpired licenses have one of the three classes mentioned above.

IMHO, FCC's inaction is because nobody has shown them any good reason to get rid of the three-level system that we are moving towards. If you really think Extra should go away and that Generals and Advanceds should get all privileges, then YOU have to convince FCC to change the rules.

The way you do that is to write up a formal proposal in the kind of verbiage and format FCC expects, and get widespread support for it in the amateur community. Then you send it into FCC and see what happens.

Of course that's a bit of work. In fact it's probably more work than passing the Extra test. But it's how most rule changes happen.

If YOU really want it to happen, then YOU have to be the one making and selling the proposal. That's how it works when it comes to almost all Part 97 changes.

IOW, it's not up to FCC or other hams to justify the existing system. It's up to *you* to propose and justify changes.

You might be tempted to skip the get-widespread-support-for- it-in-the-amateur-community part, because that's not easy. But if you skip that step, your proposal will probably get lots of negative comments, and FCC will not act on it.

Also, be aware of the power of the Law of Unintended Consequences. FCC could decide to merge the General and Extra into one license class, and in so doing to merge the tests as well, making the General test bigger and its question pool larger. That's what happened when Advanced was closed off - the Extra test went from 40 to 50 questions, and almost all the questions from the old Advanced pool went into the Extra pool.

And if "There is nothing different or special going on over in the extra portion of the band", why do you want access to it without earning the license?

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KH6AQ on September 16, 2010, 05:46:52 AM
KD8HMO says...
"There is nothing different or special going on over in the extra portion of the band..."

There certainly is something different going on in the extra CW portions of the bands. That is where most of the CW DX is! 


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KB1SF on September 16, 2010, 06:07:44 AM
VE questions are only on the Extra exam for good reason.  There's a tacit rule that it's best to have as many Extra VEs on a team as possible so that each team member can grade any exam and take care of any bit of paperwork. Yes, Generals and Advanced have limited status in the testing system.  The vast majority of VEs are Extras because of their flexibility.  The US VECs could go to the Canadian model.  A Canadian ham must hold all three qualifications to be an AE.  IC's policy is explicitly discriminatory while the VEC policy is theoretically inclusive but limited to the full license in practice.  VEC discrimination is implicit, but at least it does not stipulate hard barriers.

This is Yet ANOTHER "kabuki dance" around the problem using circular arguments to justify the status quo.

First of all, there are only two classes of licenses in the Canadian system…Basic and Advanced.  Period. There is no "Extra" class beyond the Advanced.  If there wasn't an additional (i.e. Extra Class) license in the mix in the US system, then there would be no need for Extra Class VEs to give exams to prospective Extra Class licensees.

And the "helping with paperwork" nonsense is just that.  As a Canadian VE, I use Industry Canada (IC) provided (spelled: "free") test generation software to uniquely generate all of my exams.  And the exam software is freely available via the Web to everyone, not just VEs.  This means candidates can use it as a study tool to generate their own practice exams as well.

I also have only ONE form (the candidate's application form) to fill out once they successfully pass.  As the attending VE, I simply annotate the examinee's score on the bottom of that form, sign it as the attending VE, and fax it off directly to Industry Canada. Usually, the results of that exam (and the examinee's new call sign or upgrade) are reflected in the IC database THE NEXT DAY. The only other paperwork requirement is that I must keep a copy all successful candidates' software-generated examination booklets and filled-in answer sheets in my personal files for three years.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Canadian VE system you can view that Industry Canada application form at:  

http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/vwapj/ic2381bh.pdf/$FILE/ic2381bh.pdf (http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/vwapj/ic2381bh.pdf/$FILE/ic2381bh.pdf)

Note the places on the bottom of the form where attending VEs (Industry Canada calls us "Accredited Examiners") annotate the percentage score a candidate received on their exam(s). Note, too, that VEs can report the results of multiple examinations given to the same candidate at the same test session on a single submitted form!

I can't help but compare and contrast this horrifically simple set of forms and procedures to the multiple pieces of paper both VE's and candidates must fill out and send to the ARRL (along with money…oh, don't forget the money!) both before and after an exam is administered under the US system.

Indeed, even before I administer an actual exam, I (or our designated "Team Liaison") must send a form to the ARRL to "register" our test session and have them send me (or our "Team Liaison") test materials.  Then, on the day of the exam (and besides the NVEC Forms 610 the candidates fill out) I (we) must complete a form listing our examining VEs along with a "Candidate Roster" form that lists all test candidates (whether they pass an exam or not).  

Then, when we are finished examining people, we have to put all that filled-in paperwork into a return envelope along with a completed checklist to make sure we've got everything tucked inside. Besides the forms listed above, this also includes a "Test Session Report", a check (don't you dare forget to send in the money...no cash, please!) for the total of all cash collected from candidates, all filled-in answer sheets, both used and unused exam materials (including filled-in answer sheets and application forms for people who didn't pass!), any copies of identity documents (driver's licenses, IDs, Passports, etc.) we've collected from candidates used to establish their identities, as well as any other correspondence (questions, issues, etc.) relating to the test session.

Once again, if keeping track of all that (mostly duplicative and/or needless), "cover your finals" paperwork and dealing with test fees and all of those back and forth mailings weren't required in the US system, then it seems to me there would be no need for any "help" in filling it all out and keeping track of it all.

Indeed, acting all by myself, I seem to have no problem whatsoever dealing with Industry Canada on this issue.  But, then again, I'm only having to send off a SINGLE piece of paper per candidate to them...and even THAT one is faxed!  I keep all of the rest of it in my files.  

The bottom line here is that, under the Canadian VE system, we examiners complete a single piece of "official" paperwork per candidate faxed directly to the government agency who also happens to do all the licensing for our Service.  It's simplicity itself.  Indeed, Industry Canada has been licensing its hams this way for well over two decades now.  And, so far at least, the "sky" north of the border has yet to "fall".

Quote
The QPC's decision to limit VE questions to the Extra test is a pragmatic decision based on the proven success of the VE system.  Unless the American testing structure is radically changed the emphasis on Extra VEs should not change.

Once again, this is a circular, self-fulfilling argument.  

The fact remains that, even under the current US system, General Class licensees are authorized to administer examinations in the United States. Shouldn't they be examined on those procedures on their GENERAL class exams?  What if they never decide to "upgrade" to Extra? In what (other) way can they "prove" to the FCC that they also have the requisite skills and knowledges to successfully administer examinations in the US system?

Quote
I am certain that almost all of us have experienced questions of seniority in our professions.  Is any employee entitled to run the organization even if he/she does not have the credentials and life experience?  Why then must you insist on a legal egalitarianism that impedes efficient VE testing?  The VE system, as is, provides an efficient, ethical, and (almost always) well run system that is a marked improvement over the old FCC testing.  Let's keep going with what we've got, come what may.

These are yet MORE kabuki dances and "apples and oranges" arguments in yet another feeble attempt to justify the status quo.

Once again, amateur radio was never intended internationally to be a "profession". Rather, it was established simply to be "A radiocommunication service for the purpose of self-training, intercommunication and technical investigations carried out by amateurs, that is, by duly authorized persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest." (emphasis mine)

Professions are, by definition, pursuits that generate a "pecuniary interest" for their participants.  One definition calls a profession "a principal vocation, or employment."   Therefore, it seems to me that because we amateurs are supposed to be engaging in what we do without "pecuniary interest", the concepts of "seniority" and the attainment of "professional credentials" have absolutely no regulatory basis nor purpose in the Amateur Service.

What's more, and much to the everlasting angst of our ever-shrinking cadre of "incentive licensing forever" zealots, there's absolutely no international regulatory (spelled: "legal") basis that even allows (let alone advocates) that our amateur radio examination systems are to be used as government-sanctioned vehicles for attaining "credentials" so as to denote one's "seniority" in the Amateur Radio Service.  

Indeed, as the FCC is a federally-funded regulatory agency, they have never had a federal charter to set themselves up as a degree-granting institution such as a college or university.  Therefore, our examination system should be doing nothing more than measuring basic competencies...that is...the fitness (or unfitness) for applicants to safely and courteously operate in our Service. Period.

Clearly, the ITU never intended (under the international rules) that our licenses were to be granted under a pseudo "degree program" that somehow bestows "credentials" and/or grants "seniority" to people based on their so-called "achievements" 

It's only our FCC (with their now clearly failed, ARRL-inspired, systemically discriminatory "incentive licensing" farce) that has been trying to do so for the last 50 years.  And I say "failed" because, so far at least, only 17 percent of all US hams have been "incentivized" to seek an Extra Class license.  In a real educational program or institution, a 17 percent success rate would have gotten the perpetrators fired and their so-called "incentive" nonsense thrown out the door right along with them.

What's more, and as I have very clearly shown by comparing it to the Canadian VE system, most of the reams of predominantly "cover your finals" paperwork required in the needlessly complex VE system in the United States today (along with the "justification" for retaining a third, so-called "Extra" class of amateur radio licensing to do it) is nothing but yet more needless, largely ego-stroking, achievement-based overkill.  

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on September 16, 2010, 01:11:02 PM
My closing thoughts Keith, after having read many of your posts.  This thread is stale and grating on others -- for good reason.  After this, good luck with your project.

Okay.  Deep breath.

You're right that amateur radio is not a profession or governmental licensure.  Tickets in either the US or Canada do not require any private or civil prerequisites, background checks, or citizenship requirements.  Got a mail drop? Get on the air.  An amateur radio ticket permits nothing else than non-pecuniary hobby enjoyment and voluntary public service.  Right with you on all this.

A driver's license is also a non-professional, non-pecuniary government license.  A driver may own his/her own car, but may also use someone else's car (i.e. someone else's property).  Ham radio operators are also given the privilege to (ab)use property that is not their own.  A ham could use government owned shared frequencies to create malicious interference.  Jamming a repeater violates the private property of an individual, group, or club by impeding the properly licensed operation of private property.  Governments license hams because hams can and do commit offenses against the property of others often.

What should ham tests examine?  You have often contended that amateur radio examinations should focus largely on rules and regulations and less on technical aspects.  A person does not need to know car mechanics for a driver's license.  Still, he/she must not only know the rules of the road but demonstrate the proper use of a car on the road.  This involves the application of machinery to public roads and the tangle of private/public, individual/third party property rights.  What would happen if ham tests examined the property rights of the frequency spectrum and the legality of repeater use, but not the fundamentals of radio spectrum emissions or the technical operation of a repeater?  The ham that's ignorant of what happens when he/she transmits on a secondary allocation would resemble a car driver that has memorized highway code but cannot explain the way in which these laws are breached.  While prospective hams don't have to demonstrate how to set up a station and make a contact (a weakness in my argument that has been ameliorated to some degree in other countries and should be introduced in North America), a prospective ham must be able to explain what happens to their signal (their interaction with others' property) when they key the HT and a "blooooop!" comes out the speaker.  Basic technical questions such as "what is a repeater input?" satisfy that a new ham can key up a repeater, explain the rudiments of its function, and thereby assume the legal obligations of repeater use.  The presence of technical questions on the test resemble a driver road test so far as that test gauges an applicant's car control only according to the rules of the road but a practical demonstration of the knowledge of the use, abuse, and consequences implicit in the third party use of public property (roads). 
 
Whether you think that Extras are snobs or that the QPC has not allocated test questions properly is minutae.  Licensing is about the law and liability, end stop.  Civil rights are only violated when a person is impeded from testing for the privileges and legal responsibilities that are contained on that yellow photocopy (or in Canada, a big white piece of paper with a maple leaf on it.)

73, Jordan     


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AA4PB on September 16, 2010, 01:26:33 PM
"A person does not need to know car mechanics for a driver's license."

No, but in most states he is required to take the car to a mechanic for an annual safety inspection. So if we remove the technical requirements from amateur radio do we then need to take our radios to a shop once a year to have it tested to certify that it still meets all technical requirements? It used to be that way for commercial radios because the operators were non-technical. You had to hold at least a second class phone FCC license in order to certify a radio (tested and licensed by the FCC)

Be careful what you ask for.  ;D



Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on September 16, 2010, 02:10:44 PM
Quote from: AB2T on September 14, 2010, 05:14:39 PM:
"VE questions are only on the Extra exam for good reason.  There's a tacit rule that it's best to have as many Extra VEs on a team as possible so that each team member can grade any exam and take care of any bit of paperwork. Yes, Generals and Advanced have limited status in the testing system.  The vast majority of VEs are Extras because of their flexibility.  The US VECs could go to the Canadian model.  A Canadian ham must hold all three qualifications to be an AE.  IC's policy is explicitly discriminatory while the VEC policy is theoretically inclusive but limited to the full license in practice.  VEC discrimination is implicit, but at least it does not stipulate hard barriers."

This is Yet ANOTHER "kabuki dance" around the problem using circular arguments to justify the status quo.
Kabuki is a very ritualized, formal "play" in front of a Japanese audience who had (once) been culturally conditioned to accept it as some sort of "High Art."  Having attended only one Kabuki performance all the way through when in Japan I did not find it to be anything like the entertainment common to the rest of the world.  Japanese had been CONDITIONED to believe that Kabuki is "good" and therefore they HAD to "enjoy it."

In the same way, WE have been CONDITIONED to believe that the status quo is "good" and therefore everyone HAS to "enjoy it."  Of course that is "good" if everyone saying it is "good" had already achieved the "proper" Rank, Status, Privileges attendant to the top of the amateur radio food chain.

It makes some sort of managerial sense that a USA amateur radio test team be composed of the "highest" class of amateur radio license.  On the other hand, the old "secret" testing performed by FCC staffers did NOT require any of the staffers to hold the highest class of ANY license they administered.  For that matter, NONE of the FCC staffers of today are required to hold ANY radio license and the FCC MAKES THE REGULATIONS!

In these days of multiple-choice questions-answers, there is NO skill required to administer, proctor, or "keep house" for any amateur radio test session.  There is NO radiotelegraph cognition test to "check" on, just the use of already-made-out answer templates (for ARRL VEC teams) to check answer sheets.  It could be done by ANYONE with the slightest experience in administering such template-scored tests.  Ordinary filing clerks could do it.

There is absolutely NO need to have extraordinary "experience" as an amateur radio licensee, nor of theoretical electronics knowledge to proctor any of today's amateur radio tests.  The correct answers are already provided for examiners and all they have to do is check answer sheets against those prepared materials.

I can compare formal testing for a radio operating license taken 51 years apart.  In 1956 I took all four parts of the First Class Radiotelephone (Commercial) Operator test at a Chicago FCC Field Office.  At least two of the four parts were multiple-choice and the FCC staffer used a rather scruffy template to check those...kept "securely" under his desk blotter (NSA protocol this definitely wasn't).  The longest scoring involved an "essay" type test which required, among other things, a schematic drawing of a Class-C Final Amplifier and a written description of each component of that hand-drawn schematic.  Of other answers to this essay type part, I printed (legibly) rather than write cursive-style to make sure that my answers were legible to anyone with good eyesight.  In 2007, just a few days short of 51 years later, I took my very first amateur radio operator test, all 120 questions for all successive classes.

My amateur radio test location was all of a mile and a half from my home, held at a decommissioned Los Angeles Fire Department Fire House, courtesy of the LAFD.  The start of the test session was delayed nearly two hours because all of the VEs did not show up right away.  One of the delayers lived less than a half mile away from Old Firehouse 77.  For all of us waiting that Sunday afternoon of 25 February, we were "entertained" by watching a DVD of the animated feature film, "The Incredibles."  [yawn, "entertaining" only in my professionally checking out some of the animation techniques but otherwise just kid-stuff comedy]

There was a further delay in getting started by all those who were doing just administrative changes in their existing licenses.  Perhaps half of the people there clogging parking space were doing just that and not taking any test per se.  At least half of those should have been able to do their changes on-line at the FCC web-site for free.  Those of us there for TESTING had to wait while that crowd thinned out after all four VEs checked and double-checked (separately) those administrative change paper works.

Of the TESTS themselves, there was no problem.  But that ARRL VEC tesm had to check the answer sheets, team leader first, then the other three double-checking separately using the prepared ARRL scoring templates (transparent overlay type).  Double-checking was done after the team leader was finished, the only speed-up in the process.  There was a break between test elements, roughly 15 minutes, and we could get some warm, somewhat rancid cup of coffee, again courtesy of the LAFD.  Once the last test element was finished, all of my three answer sheets were double-checked separately AGAIN, using the same transparent overlay templates.  There weren't many applicants left at that point but a few were in some discussion with VEs over their General class test elements.  Overall time that I spent at Old Firehouse 77 a mile down the street was slightly less than two 2-hour train rides to/from Chicago in 1956, the walk to/from the Federal Building there, the FCC test answering, and the Fire Drill in that Federal Building held that day interrupting that test.  My mailed certificate of Commercial License arrived in about 2 1/2 weeks from DC; my e-mailed notice of amateur radio license appeared on a statistics website about 2 weeks later and the mailed certificate of amateur license arrived in 4 weeks from the FCC.  A half-century later, despite all the wonderful "aids" to reduce paperwork with small computers, there hasn't been much total time saved.  <shrug>

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And the "helping with paperwork" nonsense is just that.  As a Canadian VE, I use Industry Canada (IC) provided (spelled: "free") test generation software to uniquely generate all of my exams.  And the exam software is freely available via the Web to everyone, not just VEs.  This means candidates can use it as a study tool to generate their own practice exams as well.
No, no, no, Keith, that DOESN'T COUNT FOR USA HAMS!  That's what a FOREIGN COUNTRY does, it ain't the United States of America!  :D   :D   :D

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I also have only ONE form (the candidate's application form) to fill out once they successfully pass.  As the attending VE, I simply annotate the examinee's score on the bottom of that form, sign it as the attending VE, and fax it off directly to Industry Canada. Usually, the results of that exam (and the examinee's new call sign or upgrade) are reflected in the IC database THE NEXT DAY. The only other paperwork requirement is that I must keep a copy all successful candidates' software-generated examination booklets and filled-in answer sheets in my personal files for three years.
Geez, I wish it had been that easy down here.  The ARRL VEC teams had to send physical copies of test results to Newington where there was supposed to be further checking, then the ARRL notified the FCC, all by "secret" means.  We can't have any revelation of personal information down here!  :D

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...Once again, if keeping track of all that (mostly duplicative and/or needless), "cover your finals" paperwork and dealing with test fees and all of those back and forth mailings weren't required in the US system, then it seems to me there would be no need for any "help" in filling it all out and keeping track of it all.
Well, isn't that where the ARRL (and its VEC) is "looking out for the best interests" of USA radio amateurs?  :D   

Quote from AB2T:  "I am certain that almost all of us have experienced questions of seniority in our professions.  Is any employee entitled to run the organization even if he/she does not have the credentials and life experience?"

Ask Bill Gates or Paul Allen about that... :D

Quote from AB2T:  "Why then must you insist on a legal egalitarianism that impedes efficient VE testing?  The VE system, as is, provides an efficient, ethical, and (almost always) well run system that is a marked improvement over the old FCC testing.  Let's keep going with what we've got, come what may."

Despite what Keith said politely in response, I'll just say BS!  What I say is based on Life Experience as personally witnessed a half-century apart insofar as radio operator testing is concerned in the USA.  In the three years of operating high-power HF radio communicaions before my first Commercial radio operator license, I was NOT REQUIRED TO HAVE ANY "LICENSE" AT ALL!

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Once again, amateur radio was never intended internationally to be a "profession". Rather, it was established simply to be "A radiocommunication service for the purpose of self-training, intercommunication and technical investigations carried out by amateurs, that is, by duly authorized persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest." (emphasis mine)

Professions are, by definition, pursuits that generate a "pecuniary interest" for their participants.  One definition calls a profession "a principal vocation, or employment."   Therefore, it seems to me that because we amateurs are supposed to be engaging in what we do without "pecuniary interest", the concepts of "seniority" and the attainment of "professional credentials" have absolutely no regulatory basis nor purpose in the Amateur Service.
Keith, another good point, but you have to factor in all the "professional amateurs" into the mix.  :D

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It's only our FCC (with their now clearly failed, ARRL-inspired, systemically discriminatory "incentive licensing" farce) that has been trying to do so for the last 50 years.  And I say "failed" because, so far at least, only 17 percent of all US hams have been "incentivized" to seek an Extra Class license.  In a real educational program or institution, a 17 percent success rate would have gotten the perpetrators fired and their so-called "incentive" nonsense thrown out the door right along with them.
Interesting point!  Ahem, as of this morning, 16 Sep 10, USA Extras are 17.19% of all amateur license grants.  I'm one of those.  In fact, I've never had any amateur radio license other than Extra.  Not for any ego-boo, just for the sake of not having to look up in Regulations whether or not I was "allowed" to operate on a particular frequency in amateur bands.  I really don't think any "incentive plan" ever did anything for me.  If it did, then it should have been thrown out for taking a half century to make it work.  :D

Quote by Tennyson about Ozymandias:  "Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!"

73, Len K6LHA


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on September 16, 2010, 04:36:48 PM

Quote from: KD8HMO on Yesterday at 08:48:17 PM:  "So why not make this simple? Just give generals the extra privileges and do away with the general class or extra class and re-name the new class. I dont  understand what the big deal is. There is nothing different or special going on over in the extra portion of the band that I am not doing in the general portion. This whole deal is just plain silly. I want the FCC to explain their inaction on this..."

You'll wait a very long time for that explanation.  FCC looked at the whole situation back in the late 1990s and decided that three license classes (Tech Gen Extra) was the right number.
That was NEVER the "reason" stated in the Memorandum Report and Order 99-412 creating "restructuring."

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Tech and Tech Plus merged, while Novice and Advanced are going away by attrition.
[Technician and Technician-Plus class never "merged."  Technician-Plus class is still on the database and mentioned in Regulations as a class separate from Technician.

"Restructuring" of mid-2000 allowed Novice and Advanced classes to RENEW indefinitely but NO NEW license grants were made for Novice and Advanced class license grants, nor for the Technician Plus class license.  There was a caveat that Technician Plus class licensees could optionally "renew" as Technician class licensees.  That may have given the notion that a "merger" had occured.

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IMHO, FCC's inaction is because nobody has shown them any good reason to get rid of the three-level system that we are moving towards.
There is NO "inaction" on the part of the FCC.  They work normal government hours of employment.  Those in the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau assigned to amateur radio matters are a very small number of that whole Bureau.  The FCC is not a blog or weekly web page for any one special public interest group about radio.  The FCC is tasked with regulating *ALL* civil radio in the USA.  Just because the FCC regulates USA amateur radio does not mean it is required to have a presence on the Internet AS IF it were favoring that radio service or any other radio service.

"...that we are moving towards" a "three-level [sic: CLASS]" licensing system is your own CONJECTURE.
Such has not been stated (even obliquely) by the FCC.

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If you really think Extra should go away and that Generals and Advanceds should get all privileges, then YOU have to convince FCC to change the rules.  The way you do that is to write up a formal proposal in the kind of verbiage and format FCC expects, and get widespread support for it in the amateur community. Then you send it into FCC and see what happens.
Procedures for preparing and sending ANY PETITION about ANY RADIO SERVICE to the FCC are fully explained ON the FCC web pages.  NONE of those procedures requires any "support for it in any 'community' (of radio service users)."

Proposals or PETITIONS do not require great formality but the language of LAW has some rules of structure and structuring based on professional law language use.  Since the vast majority of PETITIONS are worded by professional attorneys, there is the appearance of "formality."  PEITITONS are all regarded as input from the citizenry of the United States of America and the FCC staff who first read such input are flexible enough to overlook somewhat-informal language use.  The main thing is to be POLITE to the Commission.  Never DEMAND that the Commission do something, simply request it based on good, solid reasoning EXPLAINED in the body of the Peition.

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Of course that's a bit of work. In fact it's probably more work than passing the Extra test. But it's how most rule changes happen.
No, that is NOT "how most rule [sic: Regulations] changes happen.  Regulation changes can come from within the FCC such as "housekeeping" (correction of language, minor mistakes) or specific agendas of the FCC (rare) as imposed by Congressional Law, case in point being the RF radiation exposure limits forced on the FCC.  SOME Petitions come from individual citizens but more come from specific commercial radio users such as radio stations or corporations.

There is no published data on "'work' passing the Extra test."  As for my own Extra test passing on 25 February 2007 that took less than 20 minutes, at least half of that time double-checking my own 50 answers.

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If YOU really want it to happen, then YOU have to be the one making and selling the proposal. That's how it works when it comes to almost all Part 97 changes.
In the last dozen years, the majority of regulations changes to Part 97, Title 47 C.F.R. have come from within the FCC.

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You might be tempted to skip the get-widespread-support-for- it-in-the-amateur-community part, because that's not easy. But if you skip that step, your proposal will probably get lots of negative comments, and FCC will not act on it.
The most contentious change that happened in the last dozen years concerning USA amateur radio regulations was the end of code cognition testing.  The highly-vocal long-timers were dead set against that all during the NPRM 05-235 commentary period (even long afterwards) yet it became LAW on the release of Memorandum Report and Order 06-178.

There has been lots of (uninformed) CONJECTURE about the origin of NPRM 05-235 but that can be devined from the reasons stated in Report and Order 06-178 footnotes.  It was never that the "FCC wanted it" but rather the CITIZENRY Wanted It.

It should also be noted that the FCC's little Wireless Bureau amateur radio regulation staff was quite busy with all the PEITIONS FOR RECONSIDERATION about MR&O 99-412, no less than 18 of them which had to be answered properly in accord with Part 1 protocol and released in yet another Memorandum Report and Order.

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Also, be aware of the power of the Law of Unintended Consequences.
There is NO such "law" except in the minds of some who are too busy conjecturing things without being a party to the process.  To CHANGE the LAW requires better knowledge of the LAW system than mere conjecturing on a whim of what individuals want to change something into.

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FCC could decide to merge the General and Extra into one license class, and in so doing to merge the tests as well, making the General test bigger and its question pool larger. That's what happened when Advanced was closed off - the Extra test went from 40 to 50 questions, and almost all the questions from the old Advanced pool went into the Extra pool.
This is more conjecture and becomes irrelevant.  The present day Amateur Extra class test - and the one effective for early 2007 - were not comprehensive enough for the emotion-laden name of EXTRA for that class in my opinion.  Even 200 questions for Extra would not be enough but is a reasonable compromise given the current reluctance to change any regulations whatsoever.

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And if "There is nothing different or special going on over in the extra portion of the band", why do you want access to it without earning the license?
This challenge-question is verging too close to the Personal Attack mode and is thus irrelevant.

The discussion has been so far on the WHY of having that "extra portion of the band" so that it is a very circular argument that one must "earn" it.  No one has to "earn" it anymore than anyone "MUST" get an amateur radio license.  The fact that such sub-bands within other sub-bands on USA amateur radio HF band allocations exist at all is the main topic of argument in here.  There was NO such discussion in this topic of anyone's PERSONAL REASONS for "earning" anything at all.

K6LHA


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on September 16, 2010, 05:16:36 PM
"A person does not need to know car mechanics for a driver's license."

No, but in most states he is required to take the car to a mechanic for an annual safety inspection. So if we remove the technical requirements from amateur radio do we then need to take our radios to a shop once a year to have it tested to certify that it still meets all technical requirements?

Almost certainly. But there's more!

If you want to design and build your own car, most states will require that the car meet all current safety and emissions inspections. There's usually an exception for restoring old cars, but even in such cases, the car must meet the requirements of its time.

Radio amateurs, particularly in the USA, are granted a lot of freedom when it comes to the rigs we put on the air. We can legally buy them, build them, design them, repair them, etc., and put them on the air, without any formal training or documentation. And we're not just talking about low-power channelized stuff, either, but rigs with up to 1500 watts output on "meat cooking frequencies".

So it makes sense that hams should know, and be tested on, some fundamentals of radio before being licensed. The tests, even up to Extra level, are not and have never been comprehensive tests of expertise. They just test some of the basics. (Yet for some folks even that is too much!)

AA4PB is dead-on correct about being careful what you ask for. Sometimes you get a lot more than you asked for.

Driving isn't really a good example because, while most people aren't "professional" drivers (with CDLs and such), being able to drive a car or light truck is often very important to getting and keeping a job. Particularly in areas where there isn't much in the way of public transportation, or where the job requires that you go to different places, often on short notice.

73 de Jim, N2EY 


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K7KBN on September 16, 2010, 08:39:48 PM
Quote by Tennyson about Ozymandias:  "Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
73, Len K6LHA

Tennyson had very little to do with "Ozymandias", since it was written by Shelley.  Thank you for blessing us again with your infinite wisdom.


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on September 16, 2010, 08:47:26 PM

It used to be that way for commercial radios because the operators were non-technical. You had to hold at least a second class phone FCC license in order to certify a radio (tested and licensed by the FCC)

First and Second Class Radiotelephone (Commercial) Operator licenses were converted to General Radiotelephone Operator licenses in the mid-1980s.  Shortly thereafter they became Lifetime licenses, no renewal necessary.  I have mine since I had a constantly-renewed First 'Phone since 1956.

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Be careful what you ask for.  ;D
I didn't ask for my conversion of First 'Phone to GROL but it happened anyway.  I accepted it with grace.

But, the three decades between my getting that First 'Phone and the conversion to GROL, the equivalent of an avalanche of changes and terrific improvements in radio/electronics technology had made the techies of the 50s almost obsolete.  I kept up.  A lot of others didn't.

73, Len K6LHA



Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on September 16, 2010, 08:50:52 PM
Quote by Tennyson about Ozymandias:  "Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
73, Len K6LHA

Tennyson had very little to do with "Ozymandias", since it was written by Shelley.  Thank you for blessing us again with your infinite wisdom.

Very well, I shall look upon your corrections, ye mighty literatii, and despair!
 ;D

73, Len K6LHA


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KD8HMO on September 16, 2010, 11:12:06 PM
Wow, 9 pages of posts that drone on and on, and still not one good reason to keep generals from having access to the extra portions of the band. Still makes no sense to me....


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on September 17, 2010, 01:59:11 AM
What should ham tests examine? 

There are two opposing schools of thought on that:

The first school of thought is that the tests should be comprehensive tests of everything the license permits the licensee to do. Such testing would be much more extensive than anything we've ever seen in Amateur Radio, and would include testing knowledge of regulations, theory, practical skills, safety, etc. The operative idea would be "if a ham *can* do it, it must be tested".

The second school of thought is that Amateur Radio is a "hobby", and the tests should only cover those things a ham absolutely needs to know to avoid being a problem. Such testing would be much less extensive than anything we've ever seen in Amateur Radio, because almost nothing in Amateur Radio is mandatory except not violating the rules. In the USA, the only things a ham absolutely has to know are:

1) FCC regulates amateur radio
2) An FCC license is needed to operate an amateur radio station
3) Part 97 contains the rules and regulations for US amateurs
4) Licensees must keep the FCC updated on name and address changes.

Everything else is optional, and can be learned when and as the individual needs to know it.

These two schools of thought are at odds with each other, of course. What we have today is a compromise between the two.

There's a third factor, too: Avoiding damage to third parties.

Consider, for example, the subject of safety in Amateur Radio. At one extreme would be the idea that amateurs should be CPR certified, have tower-climbing experience, and know the National Electrical Code as well as RF exposure calculation. On the other extreme is the idea that it's not the role of licensing to protect a person from themselves, and that unlicensed people work on high voltage, climb towers, etc.

The result is that testing winds up somewhere in the middle, involving a few questions of safety. These questions are mostly involved with possible effects on third parties: it's not whether an amateur exposes him/herself to RF, or is electrocuted, but whether s/he exposes a neighbor to too much RF, or burns down his/her house and puts the neighbor's house at risk.

Of course where the line between the two extreme schools of thought is drawn is a constant argument. Often the same person will have different views depending on the subject, saying there's too much of one thing and not enough of another.

73 de Jim, N2EY



Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on September 17, 2010, 02:14:52 AM
still not one good reason to keep generals from having access to the extra portions of the band. Still makes no sense to me....

Here's the reason:

The FCC thinks that there's a certain amount of knowledge and testing that should be required for full amateur privileges.

They've thought this way since at least 1968, when "incentive licensing" went into effect.

The FCC also thinks that requiring all amateurs to know all that knowledge just to get on the air is unreasonable. IOW, there should be several different license levels, and having more knowledge should translate into more privileges.

Which is the system we have in place. A person passes a relatively-simple 35 question test, and gets a Technician license, which has some but not all privileges. Pass another test, earn the General, and get more. Pass a third test, earn the Extra, and get the rest.

How much time elapses between those steps is mostly up to the individual. So is whether the additional privileges are worth the effort to get the higher-level licenses.

The difference in privileges is mostly in terms of available frequencies for 2 reasons:

1) It's what hams want
2) It's easily enforced/checked (you can't tell power level by simply listening, for example)

That's all there is to it. To earn more privileges, learn a little more about radio.

If you are not convinced by all that, remember that it's not you that must be convinced, but FCC, because they make the rules.

73 de Jim, N2EY



Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on September 17, 2010, 04:21:44 AM
The entire licensing system is full of paradoxes.

Of course. That's because the rules have evolved over time, rather than being completely redone every so often. For example, the license system we use now is based on a restructuring done in 1951.

Interesting that, arguably, the digital mode is the the most growing  of communication-forms on the amateur bands.

Maybe. But there isn't one digital mode, there are lots of them, and new ones keep popping up.

A new General class operator has full access to the frquencies the band-plan recommends for those modes. A General need never upgrade to enjoy the access to all recommended digital frequenciies.

On the other hand, General class operators of 30 and more years who passed a 13 (and higher) WPM test and arguably a more difficult theory test in a Federal building in front of an FCC examiner, may not have full access to all the CW  frequencies the band-plan recommends. :-\

You're comparing apples and oranges there, however.

Bandplans are voluntary agreements between amateurs, and do not have the force of law.

Regulations are set by governments and do have that force.

A reply of "upgrade" doesn't  address the paradox issue.

Consider that the overall effect is to encourage the use of digital modes by Generals, and to encourage Morse Code users to upgrade to Extra - even though the upgrade doesn't require a Morse Code test, or any Morse Code knowledge at all.

Here's another paradox for you:

Suppose someone wants to be a ham so s/he can operate CW on the 80 and 40 meter bands using low-power (less than 100 watts RF output) homebrew hollow-state equipment.

If the person earns the Technician license, s/he will have access to almost all of the commonly-used CW frequencies on those bands.

But in order to earn the Technician license, the prospective amateur must pass a test that includes questions on voice modes, VHF, UHF, RF exposure, repeaters, and much more.
None of which has anything to do with operating CW on the 80 and 40 meter bands using low-power homebrew hollow-state equipment.

And the Technician test includes almost nothing about actually operating CW on the 80 and 40 meter bands using low-power (less than 100 watts RF output) homebrew hollow-state equipment.

IOW, to earn the license, our hypothetical prospective amateur is required to pass a license test that tests almost nothing involving what the person intends to do when the license is earned.

How's that for a paradox?

Here's another: If that person wants access to the 25 kHz at the bottom of the 80 and 40 meter bands, s/he has to go all the way to Extra - General won't give any more privileges of interest to him/her. Yet both the General and Extra tests contain almost nothing  about actually operating CW on the 80 and 40 meter bands using low-power homebrew hollow-state equipment.


73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KB1SF on September 17, 2010, 08:20:55 AM
What should ham tests examine?  You have often contended that amateur radio examinations should focus largely on rules and regulations and less on technical aspects.

Jordan, that's NOT what I've said.

I've repeatedly said that the content and comprehensiveness of our exams should simply match the operational privileges they grant....and nothing more.  Now, that doesn't mean our exams should necessarily be more (or less) "technical".  Rather, their technical content and comprehensiveness should at least minimally match the operational and construction privileges those tests grant.

For example, right now, and as I've repeatedly said, our exam for our Technician license is absolutely not comprehensive ENOUGH.  It routinely grants "wet behind the ears" newcomers with such things as high power (1 KW) operation, "from scratch" transmitter construction, and in-band repeater construction and license privileges they simply have not demonstrated that they have the requisite background skills and knowledge to do so without risking possibly fatal harm either to themselves or others or to cause harmful interference to other services.  That is, our current, horrifically UN-comprehensive, 35-question, Technician exam simply doesn't cut it.

On the other hand, our Extra Class exam, based on a 600 page license manual and 50 question exam goes WELL BEYOND the necessary skills and knowledges required to operate one's station safely and courteously in the last few KHz of artificially walled-off frequency spectrum on our HF bands or to request a so-called "exclusive" call sign.  

In both cases, the content and comprehensiveness of the exam one takes to get that particular class of license are way out of whack with privileges they grant.

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A person does not need to know car mechanics for a driver's license.  Still, he/she must not only know the rules of the road but demonstrate the proper use of a car on the road.  This involves the application of machinery to public roads and the tangle of private/public, individual/third party property rights.  What would happen if ham tests examined the property rights of the frequency spectrum and the legality of repeater use, but not the fundamentals of radio spectrum emissions or the technical operation of a repeater?  The ham that's ignorant of what happens when he/she transmits on a secondary allocation would resemble a car driver that has memorized highway code but cannot explain the way in which these laws are breached.

No argument.  

So then why is an examination of all that technical knowledge delayed until one self-selects to take an Extra Class exam in our system?  

Shouldn't that knowledge be examined when, for example, the construction, ownership and/or operation of an in-band repeater is actually authorized by one's license?  As I've said, right now, even TECHNICIANS can build and run in-band repeaters.  Even TECHNICIANS can build transmitters and high power amplifiers "from scratch".  Even TECHNICIANS can run a KW of power.... even on our microwave frequencies where such power levels can cause permanent blindness to one's self or others if not handled with a great deal of respect. Yet there is precious little technical knowledge required to be examined and/or demonstrated by such examinees on their basic Technician exams that allows them to freely do all these things.

Unfortunately, this major disconnect in our Licensing system came about when our idiot, 1950s-era ARRL and FCC overlords decided to foist "incentive licensing" on our Service.  At the time, they truly believed that all US hams would participate in their idiot nonsense, aspire to attain all that requisite knowledge and  deeply covet an Extra Class license.  They also believed that, by the time all of us DID achieve that exalted pinnacle of hamdom, Extra Class operators would have all the knowledge they would ever need to safely and courteously "do it all" in our Service.  

Unfortunately, NONE of that has proven to be true in practice.

Indeed, right now 49 percent (almost half!) of all US hams have not "progressed" beyond the Technician license and most seem quite content to stay that way.  As I also noted previously, only 17 percent or so have been "incentivized" to progress all the way to Extra Class.   The rest of us have told the FCC to stick their "incentive" nonsense where the sun doesn't shine.

This means there's now a whole group of people who hold lower class licenses in our Service in the USA who have been given absolutely sweeping construction and operating privileges without ever having to fully demonstrate to the FCC that they know what the hell they are doing with them.  This is because these potentially harmful (or potentially interference-causing) privileges have all been routinely granted to rank beginners right from the start based on the myopic assumption that if the ARRL and the FCC stroke our egos enough, we'll all eventually obtian that requisite knowledge when we "upgrade" to an Extra Class license.  

This, of course, is hogwash!

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"While prospective hams don't have to demonstrate how to set up a station and make a contact (a weakness in my argument that has been ameliorated to some degree in other countries and should be introduced in North America), a prospective ham must be able to explain what happens to their signal (their interaction with others' property) when they key the HT and a "blooooop!" comes out the speaker.  Basic technical questions such as "what is a repeater input?" satisfy that a new ham can key up a repeater, explain the rudiments of its function, and thereby assume the legal obligations of repeater use.  The presence of technical questions on the test resemble a driver road test so far as that test gauges an applicant's car control only according to the rules of the road but a practical demonstration of the knowledge of the use, abuse, and consequences implicit in the third party use of public property (roads).


All of which is precisely why countries like Canada (and most others on the planet) never bought into any of this US-concocted, "incentive licensing" nonsense.

Other countries specifically WITHHOLD such potentially harmful or interference-prone privileges (such as constructing transmitters "from scratch", running a full KW of power, being the licensee of an in-band repeater or club station or giving exams) and other such privileges from rank beginners.

Indeed, and as you well know, in order to be authorized to do all these "other" things in our Service, Canadian hams must take another, far more comprehensive (and technically oriented) test called an "Advanced" exam.  But rather than being a broad, primarily achievement-based, ego-stroking examination as our Extra Class has now become, the Canadian Advanced exam's content is based SOLELY on the SPECIFIC technical skills and knowledges required to exercise just that small handful of far more hazardous or interference-prone privileges safely and courteously.  

Clearly, doing such things as building or operating a transmitter "from scratch", running high power or operating an in-band repeater takes a whole lot more technical knowledge than just stringing up a dipole or putting a connector on a piece of coax.  Industry Canada well recognizes this fact, and, by specifically withholding such privileges from rank beginners, they HAVE established a valid regulatory (spelled "legal') reason (beyond mere "education") to examine the harder technical stuff via another (far more technically comprehensive) exam.  

But, by contrast, and by any measure, it DOESN'T take a working knowledge of a 600 page, Extra Class license manual and yet another 50 question exam (made up of questions drawn from a 700-item question pool) to determine one's fitness to operate in the last few KHz of artificially walled-off portions of our HF bands and/or to fill out a stupid piece of paper to request a so-called "exclusive" Extra Class call sign.
 
Quote
Whether you think that Extras are snobs or that the QPC has not allocated test questions properly is minutae.  Licensing is about the law and liability, end stop.  Civil rights are only violated when a person is impeded from testing for the privileges and legal responsibilities that are contained on that yellow photocopy (or in Canada, a big white piece of paper with a maple leaf on it.)

I disagree.  

As I have shown, when the content and comprehensiveness of ANY license exam administered by an arm of the US Government DOES NOT MATCH the operational privileges it grants, then it's illegal under a whole plethora of current US equal access laws.  Period.  

And that mismatch DOES NOT necessarily have to be in the "too comprehensive" direction.  In that sense, our Technician exam is just as systemically discriminatory as our Extra Class exam is.  That's because NEITHER test correctly examines the skills and knowledges (technical or otherwise) that are specifically required to safely and courteously exercise the operational privileges those exams grant candidates who successfully complete them.

Once again, the bottom line here is that it's not the "easiness" or "hardness" of our US amateur radio exams that make them systemically discriminatory under US law.  Its the fact that their current content and comprehensiveness is not directly RELEVANT to the specific operational privileges each one grants.

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N5MOA on September 17, 2010, 10:01:42 AM

Indeed, right now 49 percent (almost half!) of all US hams have not "progressed" beyond the Technician license and most seem quite content to stay that way.

If the technician license gives them all the privileges they want, why should they upgrade? And why do you care if they don't?



As I also noted previously, only 17 percent or so have been "incentivized" to progress all the way to Extra Class.   The rest of us have told the FCC to stick their "incentive" nonsense where the sun doesn't shine.

IMO, those who want more privileges upgrade, those who don't, don't. Hardly sticking anything anywhere.



As I have shown, when the content and comprehensiveness of ANY license exam administered by an arm of the US Government DOES NOT MATCH the operational privileges it grants, then it's illegal under a whole plethora of current US equal access laws.  Period. 


No, you have not shown that. You have not  referenced even one law it (according to you) breaks. You've said it, many times over and over and over again, but you have not "shown" anything other than your opinion. Period.

These are direct quotes from the link you provided for the definition of "systematic discrimination":

"Discrimination:
Discrimination is the denial of equal treatment, civil liberties and opportunity – the unequal treatment of people or groups resulting in subordination and deprivation of political, social and economic rights with respect to education, accommodation, health care, employment, and access to goods, services and facilities. Discrimination may occur on the basis of race, nationality, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, religious or political affiliation, marital or family status, or disability. Discrimination is often invisible to those who are not its targets. There are three kinds of discrimination:

1) Overt Discrimination:    Either the granting or denying of certain rights to certain groups or individuals.

2) Unequal Treatment:    The differential treatment of one group in comparison with another because of certain characteristics (ie. paying lower wages to women in comparison to me for work of equal value).

3) Systemic Discrimination:   The policies and practices lodged firmly in established institutions, which result in the exclusion or promotion of designated groups. It differs from overt discrimination in that no individual intent is necessary.
"

and

"Discrimination
Unequal treatment which is usually based on prejudice.
"

and last but not least

"Discrimination: An intentional or unintentional act which adversely affects employment opportunities because of race, color, religion, sex, disability, marital status, or national origin, or other factors such as age (under particular laws.) See Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.

  Systemic Discrimination may be said to occur when unequal treatment results from “neutral” institutional practices that continue the effect of past discrimination
   Intentional Discrimination may result when an individual is purposely subjected to unequal treatment on the basis of race, color, religion, age, national origin, sex, disability, or status as a disabled or Vietnam Era Veteran.
"

How does any of that apply to amateur testing? Everyone has equal access to the test, and equal opportunity to pass the test(s). Since most everyone has the opportunity to take a test to obtain an amateur license, and everyone who has an amateur license has the opportunity to upgrade said license (except for Extra), what/where/towards who is this "systematic discrimination" you refer to?

How the rest of the world handles/structures their amateur licensing is not relevant, as long as it meets the minimum requirements of the ITU. There is nothing wrong with exceeding those minimums, nor is the anything that puts a restriction on the maximum requirements. That is left to each country to decide as they see fit.

What is the real reason behind your continued ranting Keith? Did you wake up one morning and decide to rail against our licensing structure "just because I can"? Have you, or someone you know, been terribly mistreated by it? Did you decide to be the "champion of the (according to you) downtrodden, mistreated hams of the U.S."?

Or, is it because you (according to other posts you have made) advocate regulation by bandwidth, and this is an end-around tactic since that got shot  down? What modes are you wanting to do in the U.S. you can't because of that?



This, of course, is hogwash!

 

I'll agree, most everything you post is.

Back to work, ya'll have a nice day.

Tom






Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KB1SF on September 17, 2010, 06:41:10 PM
I'll agree, most everything you post is (hogwash).

In a previous post, I made the observation that some people are simply not capable of fully understanding that there is a vast difference between the content and comprehensiveness of a legal versus illegal examination in the US federal service.

So, thank you, Tom, for your latest post which adds yet more evidence to support that notion.

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KB1SF on September 17, 2010, 07:36:02 PM
No, no, no, Keith, that DOESN'T COUNT FOR USA HAMS!  That's what a FOREIGN COUNTRY does, it ain't the United States of America!  :D   :D   :D

Obviously, how other countries administer their amateur services apparently doesn't matter to our resident authoritarians because, according to folks like Tom and Jimmie, the true spirit and intent of the ITU Radio Regulations don't amount to diddly squat in the United States.  Clearly Part 97 is the only "Gospel" they genuflect to.  And for people like you and I to dare question any of what's contained in Part 97 (or how it directly contravenes the ITU rules) is nothing short of blasphemy.

Indeed, according to this crowd's horrifically US-centric view, because amateur radio as they know it doesn't exist anywhere else on the planet, if they had their way, all those "unclean" amateur radio signals would abruptly stop at the US border.

And that's because all those "alien" emissions don't comply with our FCC Part 97 rules, particularly as they relate to our over-regulated sub-band, and sub-sub band "incentive licensing" snobbery that enables their self-stoking "Good Old Boy's Extra Class Radio Club".  So, it follows that the far more equitable ways of regulating our Service that are now in use in most other countries that I've been highlighting constitute a grave threat to this crowd's (now very comfortable) systemically discriminatory status quo.  Such "far out" ideas (and the people like me who promulgate them) must therefore be continually dismissed out of hand as "not invented here".

Quote
Quote by Tennyson about Ozymandias:  "Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!"

Len, I'd say it's more like deer-in-the-headlights PANIC  that the regulatory underpinnings of their decades old, systemically discriminatory, "Good Old Boy's Club" are now being summarily yanked out from underneath their collectively upturned noses.  

Clearly, this crowd remains royally peeved that their long-running and baselessly exclusive Extra Class "gig" in our Service is now very much "up".  And it's also painfully apparent that everyone (including themselves) now very much knows that their US Government-enabled, ego-stroking "Country Club" of many years is now legally dead...it just hasn't fallen over yet.  

However, on the other hand, I do have to admit that it's been a real blast reading all the verbal contortions and lame excuses in this crowd's clearly futile attempts to keep justifying the (now) legally unjustifiable all the while their so-called "exclusive" little empires continue to come crashing down around their ears.  

Indeed, judging from the wails of protest and continuing vitriol being spewed in our direction from the mouths and keyboards of this crowd, its painfully obvious you and I are highlighting a whole bunch of ego-threatening realities these folks absolutely DO NOT want to be reminded of, let alone to intelligently discuss.

But, on the other hand, I think you'll also agree that punching king-sized holes in all those 20-WPM, FCC examined, over-inflated, Extra Class egos has been tons of fun, too!  :D

Cheers!

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on September 17, 2010, 09:13:40 PM
Quote
author=N5MOA link=topic=70321.msg471349#msg471349 date=1284742902]
Quote from: KB1SF on Today at 08:20:55 AM
Indeed, right now 49 percent (almost half!) of all US hams have not "progressed" beyond the Technician license and most seem quite content to stay that way.
Quote

If the technician license gives them all the privileges they want, why should they upgrade? And why do you care if they don't?
In truth, most Technician class licensees MAY NOT CARE to "upgrade."  But that is THEIR OPTION, not yours, nor are we all supposed to "accept" the "words" of some membership organization or individual with some (anger-management?) complaints.

The FCC regulates ALL civil radio in the USA.  That INCLUDES citizens who may or may not be licensed radio amateurs.  The regulations apply to ALL.

Quote
IMO, those who want more privileges upgrade, those who don't, don't.
That's being repetitive.  For myself, I CANNOT "upgrade."  I've never had any amateur radio license class other than Amateur Extra.  Yet I will agree with KB1SF on the need to more "restructuring" of USA amateur radio regulations to remove a lot of the "incentive plan" RESTRICTIONS that have plagued USA amateur radio for a half century or so.

Quote
Quote from: KB1SF on Today at 08:20:55 AM
"As I have shown, when the content and comprehensiveness of ANY license exam administered by an arm of the US Government DOES NOT MATCH the operational privileges it grants, then it's illegal under a whole plethora of current US equal access laws.  Period." 

No, you have not shown that. You have not  referenced even one law it (according to you) breaks. You've said it, many times over and over and over again, but you have not "shown" anything other than your opinion. Period.

I have SHOWN, repeatedly, both here and directly to the FCC (Replies to NPRM 05-235) that just ONE regulation has been discriminatory, at least from 1995 onwards and perhaps for two or three decades before that.  I do not have referencible sources before 1995 immediately available, but they exist somewhere.  One does not need to be an attorney to understand that one regulation is discriminatory, namely the morse code cognition test element.  The reasoning is what the FCC itself allows in regulations: the OPTIONAL use of any allocated mode by USA radio amateurs.

The WHY of such discrimination is NOT held in some "treaty" (actually ITU-R Special Radio Regulation S25, rewritten by vote in 2003 at the WRC-03) but rather by some uber-conservative opinions of one (so-called) membership organization in the New England territory of the USA.  Even in the restrictive bandplan makeup of earlier FCC regualtions, the OPTION of using OTHER modes, with the exception of small VHF slices to promote moonbounce (so-called "EME"), that singular pass-fail test of code cognition was still required for five of the six license classes existing as of prior to mid-2000.
Note: Five classes of USA amateur radio license still exist for legal transmission by USA radio amateurs as of September 2010; two of those classes have an indefinite license renewal condition in FCC regulations.

What does not seem to be realized by so many of the uber-conservative "incentive plan" advocates is that legally licensed radio amateurs in the USA could USE OOK CW mode without taking any TEST for morse code cognition.  In other words, that singular pass-fail code test PREVENTED some from achieving the Rank, Status, Privilege of the OOK CW elitists in a USA amateur radio service.  That alone was DISCRIMINATORY.  It finally came to be that NPRM 05-235 was released and commented upon and became reality with the release of Memorandum Report and Order 06-178 in December of 2006, became LAW on 23 February 2007 as established by publication in the Federal Register.

Further DISCRIMINATION, prior to mid-2000, was that the so-called morse code cognition rate cap of 5 WPM via a medical doctor's statement would disallow having to test at 13 WPM or 20 WPM rates.  So those FEW "waivers" could allow such slow-cognition-rated individuals to HAVE amateur radio license glass grants that were "higher" than "lesser" classes.  Note: USA amateur radio restructuring, by MR&O 99-412, released in December, 1999, limited the code cognition rate to 5 WPM of any class that required such a test.

As to "bandplans" that restricted parts of USA amateur HF-MF bands to certain classes, there is NO technical justification for that, nor was there much in the gentleman's agreements reached in the IARU as to such exclusivity.  Note: The ITU-R did not have any such "bandplan" other than allocating the total span of each amateur radio band; the IARU could not be a voting member at any World Radio Conference or World Administrative Radio Conference.  Yet the USA amateur radio regulations still have LAW on exclusivity in bandplans for the "highest" class of USA amateur radio license.  There is only one rational explanation for that: It was lobbied for by the so-called "elitists" long ago to be for that minority of amateur radio licensees.  That rather defeated the NOTION that USA amateur radio was a "community" of like-minded hobbyists, all supposedly there for comradship and common "fun."  It was rather a group of "I'm better than you" sort of Type-A male activity summed up by the Latin phrase (and oxymoron) "Primus inter Pares" (First among equals).

As an Amateur Extra class licensee, I have nothing against the class per se.  What I am against is the rather blatant discrimination of a minority in a hobby activity USING their so-called exclusivity status for THEIR OWN ADVANTAGE.  THAT is what was perceived as done back 40 to 50 years ago under the GUISE of some other reason, namely to "provide an incentive to learn more."  That could only be described as "hogwash" and just plain discriminatory.   

Quote
How does any of that apply to amateur testing? Everyone has equal access to the test, and equal opportunity to pass the test(s). Since most everyone has the opportunity to take a test to obtain an amateur license, and everyone who has an amateur license has the opportunity to upgrade said license (except for Extra), what/where/towards who is this "systematic discrimination" you refer to?
As I've just written, I have described several applications to amateur radio testing AS IT EXISTS TODAY, not far back in the past, not influenced by any membership organization's OPINION as How Things Should Be according to six-figure annual income professional amateurs (who like to control other amateurs?).

Also, as I've just written, I CANNOT "upgrade" to any "higher" license class.  Are all "supposed" to start only at the "bottom" and "work upwards?"  That isn't in USA amateur radio regulations.

Quote
How the rest of the world handles/structures their amateur licensing is not relevant, as long as it meets the minimum requirements of the ITU.
The ITU-R has very little in the way of "minimums" on frequency bands, only the start and end of each band.  The IARU has some "bandplans" but the IARU is not a member of the ITU, only a non-voting advisor for individual nations' administrations.  Regional organizations might have more but such are only in uncodified form, i.e., "gentlemen's agreements."

Nothing in Part 97, Title 47 C.F.R., says I MUST agree with the ITU, using only parts of the ITU in referencing certain definitions.  Under the LAW of the United States of America, I am required only to obey the regulations given in Part 97, Title 47 C.F.R.  Not the "law" of the ITU (they have no such "law"), NOT the supposed law of any CEPT statements, NOT the words of the ARRL which has absolutely NO authority in and by themselves, NOT the words of the uber-conservative amateurs who are living in a fantasm of PAST regulations and alleged "tradition."

LAW in the United States of America CAN BE CHANGED.  It has been changed, it can continue to be changed.  There is a democratically-principled format and procedure and protocol for it to be changed.  By CITIZENS of the United States of America in regard to LAWs of the United States of America.

Some of us CITIZENS of the United States of America are seeking to CHANGE certain laws of this country.  If you attempt to STOP us from attempting to change certain laws, then YOU are in the league of the dictators and one-party-rulers who forbid US from doing what the Constitution of the United States of America gives us freely.

The LAW in regard to regulations of the USA amateur radio service has not been fully changed, not in 2007, not in 2000, and there is more work to be done to COMPLETE the changes that were truly begun ten years ago.  It is your privilege as a CITIZEN of the USA to oppose the completion of such changes but you do NOT get to do so by defying US of continuing such changes.  You can act "tough" and try to bully US with anything from cat-calls to outright insults of a personal nature.  Such activity only shows US and everyone else how weak your own conservatism IS.

K6LHA



Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on September 17, 2010, 09:37:35 PM
No, no, no, Keith, that DOESN'T COUNT FOR USA HAMS!  That's what a FOREIGN COUNTRY does, it ain't the United States of America!  :D   :D   :D

Obviously, how other countries administer their amateur services apparently doesn't matter to our resident authoritarians because, according to folks like Tom and Jimmie, the true spirit and intent of the ITU Radio Regulations don't amount to diddly squat in the United States.  Clearly Part 97 is the only "Gospel" they genuflect to.  And for people like you and I to dare question any of what's contained in Part 97 (or how it directly contravenes the ITU rules) is nothing short of blasphemy.
Specifically, it is ITU-R Special Radio Regulation S25, a thing that was re-written in 2003 at WRC-03.  That was 7 years ago and some cannot accept that to this very day.

Quote
Indeed, according to this crowd's horrifically US-centric view, because amateur radio as they know it doesn't exist anywhere else on the planet, if they had their way, all those "unclean" amateur radio signals would abruptly stop at the US border.

Don't they?!?    :D   :D   :D

Quote
Quote by Tennyson about Ozymandias:  "Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!"

Len, I'd say it's more like deer-in-the-headlights PANIC  that the regulatory underpinnings of their decades old, systemically discriminatory, "Good Old Boy's Club" are now being summarily yanked out from underneath their collectively upturned noses.
[/quote]
My quote was from a work by Percy B. Shelley not Tenneyson.  Those that cannot understand the meaning of Shelley's WORDS can only "correct" the attribution of the work.  They cannot understand the meaning (or the sarcasm) that is behind the WORDS, therefore how can they understand the linkage of several amateur radio regulations which might be contradictory?   
  
Quote
I think you'll also agree that punching king-sized holes in all those 20-WPM, FCC examined, over-inflated, Extra Class egos has been tons of fun, too!  :D
Only "sort of" Keith.  It is counter-productive to have to explain simple civics and elementary law to the ignorant who live only by the mythos and legends of what amateur radio ONCE was...long ago.  Those that can only think of themselves and their own Rank, Status, Privilege aren't capable of thinking of the FUTURE or any group other than their own little closed 'tribe' of elitists.

73, Len K6LHA


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K7KBN on September 17, 2010, 10:43:26 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGsSAysEEug (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGsSAysEEug)


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on September 18, 2010, 04:40:20 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQFKtI6gn9Y

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe1a1wHxTyo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrdEMERq8MA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xJSey8HRUhU


73 de Jim, N2EY



Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on September 18, 2010, 04:54:28 AM
"A person does not need to know car mechanics for a driver's license."

No, but in most states he is required to take the car to a mechanic for an annual safety inspection. So if we remove the technical requirements from amateur radio do we then need to take our radios to a shop once a year to have it tested to certify that it still meets all technical requirements? It used to be that way for commercial radios because the operators were non-technical. You had to hold at least a second class phone FCC license in order to certify a radio (tested and licensed by the FCC)

Be careful what you ask for.  ;D

Exactly true AA4PB.  Thank you for pointing out this major flaw in my argument.  Now you guys know why I didn't go to law school!

The technical questions are also there to ensure to varying degrees that a ham can identify faults with his/her equipment and not just fulfill minimum legal obligations through a rudimentary knowledge of the operational process.  The old CB license's requirement of type accepted equipment obviated testing since there was no legal requirement that the operator identify and correct unintentional interference.  Under the old CB licensing, an operator merely bound himself/herself to the legal operation of the radio.  This is akin to the way in which a driver's license merely binds the driver to the legal obligations of operating the vehicle but not its repair.  

My previous argument might come in handy now that GMRS might go "license by rule" (spectral anarchy).  Nevertheless my previous argument was illogical in the case of ham radio.

Aside: hams today tend not to homebrew or assemble kits, so the ability to build and operate non-type-accepted equipment is a moot point for most hams.  Manufactured rigs meet the metrics for type acceptance.  Ham radio is a now a type-accepted hobby for better or worse.

73, Jordan




Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on September 18, 2010, 05:02:36 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EyaUSXeiybo


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on September 18, 2010, 05:30:47 AM
The technical questions are also there to ensure to varying degrees that a ham can identify faults with his/her equipment and not just fulfill minimum legal obligations through a rudimentary knowledge of the operational process.

That's true. And it's not the only reason for technical questions.

If you look at License Manuals from the bad old days, you'll see that there were a lot of questions on certain technical subjects (such as power-supply filters, spurious signal reduction, accurate transmitter frequency measurement, splatter prevention, etc., but very few on other subjects such as antennas and receivers. IMHO the emphasis was on areas where hams had encountered problems, such as straying out of the band, harmonics, splatter, etc.

While the technology has changed, some of the problems can still happen.

 The old CB license's requirement of type accepted equipment obviated testing since there was no legal requirement that the operator identify and correct unintentional interference.  Under the old CB licensing, an operator merely bound himself/herself to the legal operation of the radio.  This is akin to the way in which a driver's license merely binds the driver to the legal obligations of operating the vehicle but not its repair.  

Note too that in the case of a motor vehicle the vehicle itself is licensed as well as the operator. Here in Pennsylvania, licensing a vehicle requires that it meet a whole bunch of safety, environmental and other specifications before being allowed on the road. Modification of a vehicle in any way that affects those specifications will prevent it from being licensed. Same for lack of maintenance if it affects those specifications.

More important, look at what happened to 27 MHz cb within a few years of its creation. I don't think that's where amateur radio should go.

Aside: hams today tend not to homebrew or assemble kits, so the ability to build and operate non-type-accepted equipment is a moot point for most hams.  Manufactured rigs meet the metrics for type acceptance.  Ham radio is a now a type-accepted hobby for better or worse.

Not at all.

First off, manufactured amateur equipment has to be certified, not type-accepted. Big difference.

Second, while most amateurs simply buy their rigs ready-made, there are a considerable number who homebrew their own, assemble kits, repair and modify rigs of all different vintages, convert rigs from other services, and much more. That we are *allowed* to do this requires that the license exams cover at least some technical aspects.

Third, unlike almost all other services, amateur radio is not channelized (except on 60 meters, where we are secondary users). So hams need to know some things about signal characteristics.

If anything, the current US amateur radio license exams - at ALL levels - are not comprehensive enough.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on September 18, 2010, 07:03:39 AM
First off, manufactured amateur equipment has to be certified, not type-accepted. Big difference.

Quite true.  I agree that 27 MHz CB is the poster child for why type-accepted radio services can and do fail miserably.  CB has amply demonstrated that type-acceptance will not deter people from modification of manufactured radios or the use of ham gear.  GMRS/FRS is rapidly tumbling towards the same fate.  I suppose that the FCC never learned that type-accepted personal radio services inevitably degrade into anarchy.  Type-acceptance stipulations of rigid power output, channelization, and antenna certification, while ineffective, still set a legal barrier that distinguishes ham radio from consumer radio services.

Yet we hams have slid towards a de facto type acceptance.  The segment of the ham population that are appliance operators operate as if they were in a service somewhere between "certification" (i.e. clean emissions modifiable gear) and type-acceptance (unpack the box, screw on the PL-259, plug in the PS).  In other words, rigs are modifiable, but most act as if the radio is not to be modified and technically understood.  The decline in technical interest has merged ham radio with a personal type-accepted service insofar as knowing what's ticking in the box isn't necessary.

As Jim and AA4PB have indicated, those that call for a licensing system that emphasizes operation proficiency over technical proficiency risks a type-acceptance mentality.  While the old exam series did not prevent poor operators from operation, the old exams provided a higher level of technical examination.  The FCC should never have discontinued the Advanced exam.  Also, I would have kept the 5 wpm for the Advanced and Extra, but that is not possible under ADA. I'm a total nimrod and I was able to plow through four of the old exam elements (General to Extra and the 20) in a high school summer. Almost anyone with determination could have completed all the old elements in a reasonable amount of time.  I agree with Jim that we have lost a level of examination rigor through restructuring that has weakened the technical and experimental standards of the hobby.  Restructuring highlights the risks of the type-acceptance mentality.
 
73, Jordan (who wonders why he's still on this carousel)
 


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on September 18, 2010, 08:42:30 AM
I suppose that the FCC never learned that type-accepted personal radio services inevitably degrade into anarchy. 

I don't think that's really true. There are all sorts of radio services with type-acceptance/certification rules that are well-behaved. Cell phones, for example. Of course with cell phones the operation of the radio is almost completely automatic and under the supervision of the cell phone provider.

What is true is that personal-radio services such as 27 MHz cb become anarchic unless there is effective enforcement and a personal investment on the part of the users.

Yet we hams have slid towards a de facto type acceptance. 

Maybe you have. I haven't. Lots of hams I know haven't, either. And they're not all, or even mostly, old-timers, though many are. (See my shack picture in QRZ.com)

The segment of the ham population that are appliance operators operate as if they were in a service somewhere between "certification" (i.e. clean emissions modifiable gear) and type-acceptance (unpack the box, screw on the PL-259, plug in the PS).  In other words, rigs are modifiable, but most act as if the radio is not to be modified and technically understood.  The decline in technical interest has merged ham radio with a personal type-accepted service insofar as knowing what's ticking in the box isn't necessary.

Some hams do indeed take such an attitude - but it's nothing new. It's been the case since at least the early 1960s, and it was one of the things which caused FCC to push the incentive-licensing idea.

Yet even today I see plenty of hams, new and old, who really want to know the technical end of things. Not just to pass the test, but to know and use.


As Jim and AA4PB have indicated, those that call for a licensing system that emphasizes operation proficiency over technical proficiency risks a type-acceptance mentality. 

Operating proficiency isn't tested at all, and hasn't been since 2007.

What you're really seeing is the classic quantity-vs.-quality debate. On the one hand, the "quantity" folks want the absolute minimum of license requirements, trusting to technology and luck that things will work out OK. The "quality" folks want license requirements that involve some actual knowledge and know-how.

It's important to remember that when you see someone railing against a requirement, what they're often really saying is that *they* don't want to meet that requirement.

While the old exam series did not prevent poor operators from operation, the old exams provided a higher level of technical examination. 

In some areas, yes. In others, no.

The FCC should never have discontinued the Advanced exam.  Also, I would have kept the 5 wpm for the Advanced and Extra, but that is not possible under ADA.

The FCC didn't really discontinue the Advanced test. What they (actually, the QPC) did was to move all the Advanced questions into the Extra pool (except those that were made obsolete by rules changes). Then the Extra was increased from 40 to 50 questions.

It is interesting to note that in its NPRM, FCC proposed keeping the Advanced, but in its R&O eliminated it.

As for ADA, it wasn't the reason for the elimination of the code test. ADA has almost nothing to do with US amateur radio license testing.

What it all boils down to is that, here in the USA, we are moving towards a three-license-level system for amateur radio. There are no active proposals to change that.

The Technician Plus and Technician have been effectively merged for more than three years (same privileges, same requirements, and Tech Pluses being renewed as Tech), and the last active Tech Plus license expired some time back. So while the Tech Plus license exists in the rules, and there are a few thousand in the grace period, in fact that license class has disappeared for all practical purposes.

The Novice license has declined from over 49,000 in early 2000 to just about 16,000 today (active unexpired licenses), and continues to fade away. The Advanced has decreased more slowly, from about 100,000 in early 2000 to about 59,000 today. Eventually, however, both the Advanced and Novice will disappear due to attrition, upgrading, etc. It may take a long time but FCC is in no hurry.

Meanwhile, US amateur radio is growing in numbers and variety of activities, the sunspots are slowly coming back, and there's plenty to do in the shack, on the antenna farm, and on the air. Plus hamfests, club meetings, public-service, and much more.

Getting the license is just the first step. What one does with its privileges is the really important thing.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AA4PB on September 18, 2010, 09:15:52 AM
"I suppose that the FCC never learned that type-accepted personal radio services inevitably degrade into anarchy. "

It had more to due with placing a personal radio service intended for short range communications on a frequency (27 MHz) that is often open to world-wide communications, especially doing it near the peak of a sun spot cycle. What were they thinking  :o

I don't know about other areas, but in the Detroit area there were a bunch of Tech class hams who got CB licenses so they'd have a good DX band to operate on. The only practical band they had at the time was 6M. Quite a few old 11M ham tranmitters found their way into CB in those early days.

In addition, I think it was Radio Electronics magazine that ran a construction article on how to build your own CB transceiver and proclaiming "who will be the first to work all states on CB". The article was published a couple months before the opening date of 11M CB so quite a few of those home brew transceivers showed up on day one.


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on September 18, 2010, 01:32:06 PM
"I suppose that the FCC never learned that type-accepted personal radio services inevitably degrade into anarchy. "

It had more to due with placing a personal radio service intended for short range communications on a frequency (27 MHz) that is often open to world-wide communications, especially doing it near the peak of a sun spot cycle. What were they thinking
The 27 MHz CB allocations began on 11 September 1958 for "Class C (radio control)" and "Class D (voice communications)" adjunct to the two UHF CB classes which had not sold well.  The only "license" was a FORM that was supposed to be filled out and sent to the FCC.  This was similar to the existing Third Class (Restricted) Radiotelephone license required by civil aviation, small boat, and various other land mobile users.  There was NO test involved in that license nor would there ever be one for CB.

The first historical notice of any sort of "CB" service seems to have been done by Herbert Brooks, W9SDG, of Port Wing, WI, in a Letter to the Editor of QST appearing in the November 1938 issue of QST.  It is quoted as "nearly identical to what we know today (in regulations)."

CB service was first proposed by Rear Admiral Stanford C. Hooper in late 1944 at an FCC meeting concerning post-WWII frequency allocations.  In January 1945 the FCC released CB Docket #6651 for 465 MHz UHF CB.  Given the state-of-the-art of consumer electronics of 1945, the "technology" of non-crystal-controlled single-tube modulated super-regenerative Rx/Tx proved to be a small disaster market-wise and acceptance by the public languished (polite word for "failure") made UHF CB
performance lie dormant for nearly a decade.In the July 1945 issue of the Saturday Evening Post, FCC Commissioner E.K.Jett outlined his vision for this new CB radio service.  It should be noted that the Saturday Evening Post was a popular national newsstand magazine at the time covering a wide range of topics.

In the Atlantic City radio conference of 1947 the FCC allowed Industrial, Medical, and Scientific emissions encroaching on the amateur radio 10 and 20 MHz bands although the FCC did allocate the new 15m amateur band.

HF CB was allocated on 11 Sep 58 for 23 crystal-controlled channels but expansion to 40 channels did not occur until 1 Jan 77.  HF CB has been around for FIFTY-TWO YEARS!

As to the charge that the FCC "deliberately allocated 'CB' during a peak of the sunspot cycle," that seems baseless in 1958, a time when there were far more concerns with commercial broadcasting and the expansion of TV to UHF, the new "compatible color TV" (NTSC standard), experiments in stereophonic sound transmission of FM broadcast...all of which were featured in periodicals and texts of that time.  There have been 4.7 11-year sunspot cycles since 1958.

The "expansion" of HF CB from 23 channels to 40 channels happened on 1 January 1977.  By then the need for "licensing" with the FCC was over and truckers had taken over CB for personal communications with others on the nation's highways.  "Smokey" reports were well-known then along with other CB jargon.  Then as now, the major mover of goods around this nation have been truckers on the highways.  By then, truckers and others mobile had already begun to adopt the cellular telephone and, comparing a cross-country trip by car 1977 and 2001, the growth in obvious cell phone towers along the highways was observed as remarkable.

Quote
In addition, I think it was Radio Electronics magazine that ran a construction article on how tobuild your own CB transceiver and proclaiming "who will be the first to work all states on CB". The article was published a couple months before the opening date of 11M CB so quite a few of those home brew transceivers showed up on day one.
Incorrect.  It was the March 1959 issue of Radio and Television News, a monthly periodical and the author was Donald Stoner (SK) W6TNS.  Stoner was one of the advocates of the first OSCAR satellite and perhaps better known for his "Novice Q5-er" article in CQ magazine, adapting the 190 to 550 KHz ARC-5 surplus receiver with a crystal-controlled converter for the 80m and 40m ham bands.

There is no doubt that Don Stoner had some "advanced information" on the allocation of HF CB since there was a gap of about a half year between the HF CB MR&O release and publication.  Publication lead time alone was at least 2 months in the 1950s and that left 4 months for Stoner to come up with the design, build it, test and use it, write the article MS and submit it.  That March '59 issue was very popular with working Engineers and Technicians at Ramo-Wooldridge Corporation where I worked, then fairly new to the Standards Lab of R-W after a year with R-W's Electronics Warfare Lab.  I don't recall the details of the article and wouldn't get my own HF CB until later that year and install itin my 1953 Austin-Healey sports car (quick disconnect mount so that I could use it in our apartment
when not mobile).
-----------------------
Okay, now that the requisite misdirection has been done (to avoid arguments of reality of today versus myth of old days), it would be nice if we would NOT get into the ever-present CB Bigotry in hamspeak.  HF CB has been around for 52 years and is established.  If radio amateurs could not get rid of it in a half-century, there isn't any hope of getting rid of it now.

This topic is "Why Have An Extra Class."  If someone wants to (continually) bash CB, then I would suggest the "Misc." section of Forums as more appropriate.

73, Len K6LHA


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N5MOA on September 18, 2010, 02:29:13 PM


In a previous post, I made the observation that some people are simply not capable of fully understanding that there is a vast difference between the content and comprehensiveness of a legal versus illegal examination in the US federal service.

So, thank you, Tom, for your latest post which adds yet more evidence to support that notion.

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF

No problem, Keith. Glad to help out.

I'm not a lawyer, maybe you, as the self anointed expert on all things amateur, could direct the rest of us to these laws and regulations that, in your opinion, make the U.S. licensing structure illegal. A relevant court decision would be nice. A legal fact rather than your opinion or interpretation would be even nicer.




Obviously, how other countries administer their amateur services apparently doesn't matter to our resident authoritarians because, according to folks like Tom and Jimmie, the true spirit and intent of the ITU Radio Regulations don't amount to diddly squat in the United States.  Clearly Part 97 is the only "Gospel" they genuflect to.  And for people like you and I to dare question any of what's contained in Part 97 (or how it directly contravenes the ITU rules) is nothing short of blasphemy.

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF



Nothing in Part 97, Title 47 C.F.R., says I MUST agree with the ITU, using only parts of the ITU in referencing certain definitions.  Under the LAW of the United States of America, I am required only to obey the regulations given in Part 97, Title 47 C.F.R.


K6LHA



Which is it?   You two should get together and get your story straight.




Quote
How does any of that apply to amateur testing? Everyone has equal access to the test, and equal opportunity to pass the test(s). Since most everyone has the opportunity to take a test to obtain an amateur license, and everyone who has an amateur license has the opportunity to upgrade said license (except for Extra), what/where/towards who is this "systematic discrimination" you refer to?


Also, as I've just written, I CANNOT "upgrade" to any "higher" license class.  Are all "supposed" to start only at the "bottom" and "work upwards?"  That isn't in USA amateur radio regulations.


 You did upgrade, from tech to general to extra. I guess you missed, or ignored, the (except Extra) part.





LAW in the United States of America CAN BE CHANGED.  It has been changed, it can continue to be changed.  There is a democratically-principled format and procedure and protocol for it to be changed.  By CITIZENS of the United States of America in regard to LAWs of the United States of America.

Some of us CITIZENS of the United States of America are seeking to CHANGE certain laws of this country.  If you attempt to STOP us from attempting to change certain laws, then YOU are in the league of the dictators and one-party-rulers who forbid US from doing what the Constitution of the United States of America gives us freely.

The LAW in regard to regulations of the USA amateur radio service has not been fully changed, not in 2007, not in 2000, and there is more work to be done to COMPLETE the changes that were truly begun ten years ago.  It is your privilege as a CITIZEN of the USA to oppose the completion of such changes but you do NOT get to do so by defying US of continuing such changes.  You can act "tough" and try to bully US with anything from cat-calls to outright insults of a personal nature.  Such activity only shows US and everyone else how weak your own conservatism IS.

K6LHA



So citizens can seek to change certain laws, and that's ok. Other citizens can attempt to stop that change, but that puts them "in the league of the dictators and one-party-rulers"? What country do you live in? Others have just as much right to oppose change as you do to impose change.




Only "sort of" Keith.  It is counter-productive to have to explain simple civics and elementary law to the ignorant who live only by the mythos and legends of what amateur radio ONCE was...long ago.  Those that can only think of themselves and their own Rank, Status, Privilege aren't capable of thinking of the FUTURE or any group other than their own little closed 'tribe' of elitists.

73, Len K6LHA


Glad you haven't resorted to "cat-calls or outright insults of a personal nature."

And why do you keep going to the past? CW hasn't been a requirement on the amateur test for a few years now. It has no bearing on the discussion of today's testing.


I'll agree with another poster, all the tests should be more comprehensive.



73, Tom
N5MOA







Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on September 18, 2010, 02:37:13 PM
It had more to due with placing a personal radio service intended for short range communications on a frequency (27 MHz) that is often open to world-wide communications, especially doing it near the peak of a sun spot cycle. What were they thinking  :o

UHF CB (on the frequencies now used for FRS/GMRS) predated 11 meter CB by over a decade. There were many designs for UHF CB sets, but they all suffered from the same problem: The good sets were expensive and complex, while the inexpensive and simple sets weren't very good - particularly when meant for use by untrained people. Even the professional manufacturers couldn't lick that problem.

11 meter CB was created by FCC for three reasons:

1) Manufacturers could produce sets with decent performance for a lot less money than on UHF
2) The frequencies could be reallocated without violating the treaty
3) The FCC thought that by requiring licenses and writing rules, the service would be well-behaved. They could not imagine that people would soon simply ignore their rules and regs and do whatever they felt like on the cb channels.

FCC could not imagine, in 1958, that they would lose control of cb within a decade or so. But that's exactly what happened.

In a way, FCC did ham radio a huge favor by creating 11 meter cb and losing control of it. We hams got to see what could happen if our entry standards were lowered enough. We were thus able to avoid repeating the mistake.

Of course some folks think cb is just fine, and want amateur radio to become just like it. Others want us to forget or ignore what happened to cb - so we can repeat it in amateur radio.

I say "No thanks!"

btw, in the mid-1970s, the EIA proposed a new "Class E" cb service on 220 MHz - which would be created by taking the band away from hams. Again, that could be done without violating the treaty. Both hams and cb folks opposed it, and the idea was eventually dropped. Instead, FCC added 13 more 27 MHz channels.

EIA wanted the change for two reasons. First, technology had reached the point where they could make synthesized 220 FM sets for reasonable prices, with many more channels than were possible on 11. Second, the move to 220 would make almost all existing 11 meter stuff useless, and cb folks would have to buy all new sets for 220. (Power supplies and coax would probably be the only things reused). Lots of $$ to be made!

Of course hams opposed it because they didn't want to lose yet another band to anarchy. CB folks opposed it because of both the dollar cost of new gear and the fact that "working skip", running high power and other attractions of 11 meters would be a lot more difficult on 220.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on September 18, 2010, 02:48:26 PM
I suppose that the FCC never learned that type-accepted personal radio services inevitably degrade into anarchy.

What is true is that personal-radio services such as 27 MHz cb become anarchic unless there is effective enforcement and a personal investment on the part of the users.

I should have been more specific.  It's true that not all type-accepted services are anarchic.  The personal type-accepted services sometimes assume anarchic characteristics.  I was referring to GMRS and the fact that plenty (perhaps the majority) of the users in this service do not pay the licensing fee.  GMRS does not resemble 11m CB.  Still, I could see the FCC giving up on GMRS like it did with CB and just let people have a run of the place with modded ham or commercial rigs at all levels of power.

Yet we hams have slid towards a de facto type acceptance.

Maybe you have. I haven't. Lots of hams I know haven't, either. And they're not all, or even mostly, old-timers, though many are. (See my shack picture in QRZ.com)

Another generalization I shouldn't've made.  Yet we hams "Some hams ..."  There is a notable segment of hams that are not interested in repair or homebrew, but that is a long-standing phenomenon as you note.   

It's important to remember that when you see someone railing against a requirement, what they're often really saying is that *they* don't want to meet that requirement.

I don't see it that way necessarily.  As can be seen in license statistics, it is possible that many Advanced operators were spurred to upgrade to Extra after the 20 wpm was dropped in 2000.  An operator that earned an Advanced under the ancien regime but waited for restructuring to earn the Extra should not be belittled for not upgrading when the 20 wpm was in effect.  Who's to judge?  Who cares?  All Extras are full licensees.  That's what matters. 

Arguments that attempt to disguise envy for the accomplishments of others are troubling.  Waiting for restructuring to earn a ticket or upgrade is commendable so far as earning any license is commendable.  Hams that malign pre-restructuring Extras and 1x2/2x1 call holders simply because of their longer licensure or desire to hold a certain type of call reflect inadequacies that transcend amateur radio itself. 

73, Jordan


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KH6DC on September 18, 2010, 04:00:24 PM
I did it from No-Code Tech to Extra.  Took each exam plus 5 wpm, 13wpm then 20wpm morse code exams and passed.  It was great back then and the incentive was more operating frequencies, more room to play, etc.  I wish they bring back morse code, at least to the 13wpm level for General.  What is it now (I haven't kept track) Tech, General and Extra?


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KB7QND on September 19, 2010, 08:26:39 PM
Lots of good comments from everyone.  I thought the 5 class structure was ok as-was.  I was first licensed in 1991 while in high school and my elmer made me start with the Novice ticket. From there I upgraded to Tech, then General.

I have a friend who just got his license a year ago.  He likes (and me as well) HF more than 2m/70cm.  He says 10m SSB is dead and worthless.  I remember when it was thriving.  Times have changed.  People that come into the hobby now are lured in by an easy license class just to work 2m/70cm.  Or they are interested in only emergency communications.  I've met very few if any Techs that purchase an HF radio as their first radio.  Hence, 10m SSB in the Novice/Tech subband is basically inactive....I actually hear more Generals there than Novice/Tech.

I guess I kinda understand why the new entry class; to drive up license numbers to protect spectrum.  I also know that if we went back to a Novice and Tech structure, most people wouldn't bother to get licensed as they are looking for that "cell phone alternative."  My friend originally wanted something "better than CB"; but fell in love with HF once I introduced it to him.  We don't introduce HF to newcomers and don't, for the lack of a better word, "push" it during Tech license classes.

So I'm not really sure how to solve the entry license class and the 2m/70cm vs. HF debate for beginners.  Maybe just leave it as it currently is.

What I do believe is that restructuring or reexamination of test questions at the upper levels should be looked at.

What do I notice from the General and Extra exams?  That there is heavy emphasis on electronic circuits, components, and equations.  What is missing?  Detailed, indepth info on operating in the digital environment;  how to read and understand all of the propagation bulletins K-index, solor flux number; basically general operating knowledge instead of design and repair.  

After all, with our $2000 to $10,000 radios, who in reality is actually working on them???  I'm not risking it.  Some parts are now too small for me to even see or handle.

I'm studying for my Extra and here's what I notice:

1.  There's too much material for someone to learn as a hobby in one exam.  I know that there are some 7 yr old Extras, but who was teaching them?  My brain works a little slower as I get older.  It should really be split back to Advanced then Extra to make the material more manageable....like it was before with the Advanced class.  Too many technical terms and way, way too many equations to memorize (have you counted all the equations to memorize; it'll blow the mind of nonmathmeticians).  How many people memorized them all and how many people look them up when they need them?  I'm sure this is easy material for someone whose occupation is related, but for an amateur hobbiest, its a lot of material.  

2.  There's way too much material on circuits and components.  Again, as I said above, who's working on their own high end radio?  Amateur radio is supposed to be demonstrating forward looking technology....most of the technology is too complicated for your average hobbiest to fix.  What's not in the Extra exam in deep detail?  Well, digital modes....WinLink and so forth.  Just based on the exam material, when I get my Extra license, I wouldn't be able to tell you anything about WinLink or digital modes......no mention of sound card technology, how to format messages etc. because the Extra exam isn't about that.  I had to buy the ARRL HF Digital Handbook to answer my questions because the Extra exam didn't cover it.  

3.  The tests are missing just basic good operating practice.  More emphasis should be on the rules.  There's nothing in the exam about calculating your RF exposure as required by the FCC to "protect" your neighbors.  I was working a special event station and I couldn't count the vast number of 2X2, 2X1 calls etc. that were giving their callsign 3, 4, 5, and even 6 times straight as if the contact was "owed" to them and the basic rude operating all around.  I didn't hear that from the 2X3 calls.  There needs to be more emphasis on sharing and courtesy regardless of license class.  

My friend remarked that Extra seemed like an "exlusive member's only club" for experienced radio technicians who occupation was this...hence its easy for them to pass the exam  The Extra should be a little more balanced between circuits and new operating modes and station building.  Remember, its a hobby.  For some people the hobby is rag-chewing, for some its building and repairing equipment, for some its contesting, for some its operating a special event station, for some its emergency communications.  The test should balance all of that.  After all, how many Extras have built their own radio and amplifier?  I know when I listen, I hear them reciting the same brand names that Generals are using.  Usually something like "I'm running an Icom 756 Pro III with an Ameritron 811 with a beam at 75 feet."  

Why do you need to know so much for a few KHz extra radio spectrum?  After all, extra spectrum isn't really any different than the spectrum you have now.  Its not like it has different physical properties.  If you can operate on 7.200 SSB then you can operate equally well on 7.150 SSB right?

Maybe a three class system would work better.  A Novice for the 2m/70cm group or emcomm; a General for full radio spectrum; and then an Extra who would be the only ones authorized to use their own homebuilt transmitters and authorized for transmitter repair and alignment.  But that's not perfect either as people in the other license classes would lose out on homebrew and kit building.

This debate reminds me of a similar one from my years as a highway patrol/state police radio dispatcher.  The old timers were set on a 5/8 work week with three standard shifts.  As a younger generation started filling more spots, a drive went on to change that.  Us younger crowd wanted  a better balance between work and home....after all you are talking about a 24/7 occupation, working weekends, and working every holiday.  We devised a schedule that had a combination of 5/8, 4/10, and 3/12 shifts to allow some flexibility for different people's lives.  All we got from the old timers was a stone wall...with the attitude of "this is the way it was when we started, we had to earn our way to our current shift, you should suffer the same misery also."  The other argument was "we worked all those rotten hours and made sacrifices to get where we are now...it would be an insult to us (perceived reduction in "status") for the center to change now."  Our argument was, at some point things must change and no matter what point in the future we make the change, there will always be someone who has a perceived reduction in benefits or status.  But the times they are a-changin.  The stone wallers eventually retired and we out numbered the remaining during a vote.  We have our new schedule and everyone loves it; moral and productivity has improved.

And the debate continues on...........



Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on September 20, 2010, 03:32:39 AM
We don't introduce HF to newcomers and don't, for the lack of a better word, "push" it during Tech license classes.

So I'm not really sure how to solve the entry license class and the 2m/70cm vs. HF debate for beginners.  Maybe just leave it as it currently is.

What's needed is an entry license that is more balanced between HF and VHF/UHF. Techs get very little HF privileges but *all* VHF/UHF. That's an historic left-over from other times, not what we need today.

Because the Tech privileges are so VHF/UHF-centric, most of the test questions are about those bands. So the emphasis is on them in the manuals, classes, etc.

I think it would be a lot better if the entry-level license included parts of 75 and 40 'phone, maybe 30 meters, and a few digital modes. Drop the power level and move the RF exposure level questions to the other license classes.

How many people memorized them all and how many people look them up when they need them?

I learned them all - and a lot more. Years ago.

 Remember, its a hobby.

What does "it's a hobby" really mean?

The word "hobby" doesn't appear anywhere in Part 97.

 After all, how many Extras have built their own radio and amplifier?

I have - several of them. Designed and built from the ground up. Also assembled kits (Elecraft K2 is a very good rig), fixed old sets, converted surplus, and more. And not just as an Extra; been doing it since before I was a Novice.

I don't run an amplifier, but I know I could build one if I wanted to. Much simpler project than a transceiver.

 I know when I listen, I hear them reciting the same brand names that Generals are using.  Usually something like "I'm running an Icom 756 Pro III with an Ameritron 811 with a beam at 75 feet."

On 'phone, maybe. Try listening on CW.


Why do you need to know so much for a few KHz extra radio spectrum?  After all, extra spectrum isn't really any different than the spectrum you have now.  Its not like it has different physical properties.  If you can operate on 7.200 SSB then you can operate equally well on 7.150 SSB right?

If that's the case, why not allow Techs on all the HF bands? They can already operate on four of them. Is 20 that different from 15?


Maybe a three class system would work better.  A Novice for the 2m/70cm group or emcomm; a General for full radio spectrum; and then an Extra who would be the only ones authorized to use their own homebuilt transmitters and authorized for transmitter repair and alignment.

And kill off the interest in homebrewing and experimenting in all but Extras. No thanks.

73 de Jim, N2EY



Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on September 20, 2010, 10:27:35 AM

Quote from: K6LHA on September 17, 2010, 09:13:40 PM
"Nothing in Part 97, Title 47 C.F.R., says I MUST agree with the ITU, using only parts of the ITU in referencing certain definitions.  Under the LAW of the United States of America, I am required only to obey the regulations given in Part 97, Title 47 C.F.R."

Quote
Which is it?   You two should get together and get your story straight.

There is NO "straightening" to be done.  Who issued your amateur radio license?  The ITU?  The ARRL?  An Act of Congress?  No, it was the FCC acting under Title 47, Code of Federal Regulations.  Radio amateurs licensed by the FCC and operating in the territorial jurisdiction of the United States of America must abide and uphold the LAW of radio regulation represented by Title 47 C.F.R.

To reiterate, nothing says I MUST, under law, AGREE with the ITU.  I can have my own opinion on them, but I am NOT obligated to obey anything in the NON-law that they do not, and cannot enforce.  The ITU is a UN body and administration members are bound only by "gentlemen's agreements" to honor such memberships.

Quote from: K6LHA on September 17, 2010, 09:13:40 PM

'Also, as I've just written, I CANNOT "upgrade" to any "higher" license class.  Are all "supposed" to start only at the "bottom" and "work upwards?"  That isn't in USA amateur radio regulations.'

Quote
You did upgrade, from tech to general to extra. I guess you missed, or ignored, the (except Extra) part.

Sorry, but you do not understand the regulations or are deliberately playing a bad case of word-weasel that became road-kill quickly.  You may check out my entire amateur radio licensing history on-line at the FCC under their ULS.  It is all public.  I do not control any part of such records.

First of all, common sense should have told you that to "upgrade" to some class, one had to ALREADY have a granted license class to "upgrade" FROM.  I've never had an amateur radio license in any country before 7 March 2007.

Secondly, I took all three test elements on the same afternoon of 25 February 2007 ACCORDING TO REGULATIONS as found in Part 97, Title 47 C.F.R.  Did I somehow "upgrade" because I HAD to take them in order, Technician, General, then Extra?  No.  At the end of the test session I had passed all the test elements but I did not yet posess any amateur radio license.  I had to WAIT while the VEC team forwarded my test materials to their ARRL for "approval," then WAIT while the FCC "approved" what the ARRL VEC did.  At NO time during that WAITING period did I have any legal permission to operate on USA amateur radio bands legally.  There was NO possibility of "upgrading" to any class during that waiting period.

Why are you so antagonistic?  Is it because I was one of the rare ones to make "Extra out of the Box?"  Do you resent that?  I don't see why you should.  It was only 120 questions total.  Do you feel that wasn't "enough" in my case?  Don't you think that three years of BEGINNING experience in HF radio was a sufficient grounding for high-power HF transmitters, done 54 years before that test session?  Plus all that time from 1956 to 2007 working IN radio-electronics?  I have legally transmitted and otherwise emitted RF energy on 7 different radio services of the USA.  Amateur radio now makes it the 8th radio service.

No, nothing apparently satisfies you.  You appear to argue only for arguments' sake.  Such is just an immature delaying tactic done in hopes that myself and others will somehow CEASE trying to change the amateur radio regulations...such does not work to your advantage.

I'm looking towards the future, something brighter and more fulfilling than retaining the same old, same old standards and practices of the last half-century in USA amateur radio...a future for OTHER citizens of the USA to enjoy for themselves, freed from the insistence of some graying elder amateurs who wish to be adored or perhaps "respected" for doing the same old thing over and over again.

K6LHA


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N5MOA on September 20, 2010, 02:59:52 PM


There is NO "straightening" to be done. 

K6LHA

You and Keith have been in such agreement with each other, so when he said



Obviously, how other countries administer their amateur services apparently doesn't matter to our resident authoritarians because, according to folks like Tom and Jimmie, the true spirit and intent of the ITU Radio Regulations don't amount to diddly squat in the United States.  Clearly Part 97 is the only "Gospel" they genuflect to.  And for people like you and I to dare question any of what's contained in Part 97 (or how it directly contravenes the ITU rules) is nothing short of blasphemy.

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


followed by your comment


Nothing in Part 97, Title 47 C.F.R., says I MUST agree with the ITU, using only parts of the ITU in referencing certain definitions.  Under the LAW of the United States of America, I am required only to obey the regulations given in Part 97, Title 47 C.F.R.

K6LHA


I thought it was odd that two people in such agreement on this licensing discussion could have such differing views on whether the ITU "rules", as Keith calls them, mean diddly in regards to Part 97. That's what I meant by getting it straight.

I happen to agree with you on that.
 


Why are you so antagonistic?

K6LHA

I'm not being antagonistic, Len. I question things I don't agree with, and I don't agree with most of your opinions. I try to be as civil as possible. You state your opinions, I'll state mine. Usually, they will oppose. If you choose to take my opinions as antagonistic, that's your issue. Or do your take every opinion other than your own as antagonistic?



  Is it because I was one of the rare ones to make "Extra out of the Box?"  Do you resent that?  I don't see why you should.  It was only 120 questions total.  Do you feel that wasn't "enough" in my case?  Don't you think that three years of BEGINNING experience in HF radio was a sufficient grounding for high-power HF transmitters, done 54 years before that test session?  Plus all that time from 1956 to 2007 working IN radio-electronics?  I have legally transmitted and otherwise emitted RF energy on 7 different radio services of the USA.  Amateur radio now makes it the 8th radio service.

K6LHA

I don't think it's really that rare, Len, but good for you. I don't  care if you made "extra out of the box" or not. You passed the tests available when you took them. How or when you passed the tests isn't part of the discussion, other than you keep bringing it up.



No, nothing apparently satisfies you.  You appear to argue only for arguments' sake.  Such is just an immature delaying tactic done in hopes that myself and others will somehow CEASE trying to change the amateur radio regulations...such does not work to your advantage.

K6LHA

Nope, it's because I don't agree with the opinion of whomever I'm having a discussion with. Hardly an "immature delaying tactic", but think what you will. You, and others, want to change the U.S. amateur radio regulations. I think what we have works just fine.


Have a nice day.

Tom
N5MOA


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KB1SF on September 21, 2010, 10:41:17 AM
I thought it was odd that two people in such agreement on this licensing discussion could have such differing views on whether the ITU "rules", as Keith calls them, mean diddly in regards to Part 97. That's what I meant by getting it straight.

I happen to agree with you on that.

If the ITU rules don't mean "diddly" to the FCC, perhaps you gents would now care to speculate as to why the FCC waited until Article 25 of the ITU rules was changed in 2003 so as to make Morse testing optional in our Service before tour FCC finally ditched such tests entirely?

Based on their actions to steadily reduce the comprehensiveness of these Morse tests over the years, clearly the FCC has long since believed that the Morse test has not served a useful regulatory purpose in our Service in decades.  And even though, by the time they finally ended all forms of Morse testing in 2007 (and those requirements were down to a farcical 5 WPM) why do you think they still felt a regulatory need to keep such a farcical test in the mix?  

Why didn't they just ditch all forms of Morse testing altogether LONG before the ITU made it optional?

Also if the ITU regulations don't mean "diddly" to the FCC, when why do they (along with the ARRL) spend upwards of millions of dollars preparing for and then sending "delegates" (i.e. "lobbyists") to ITU-sponsored World Radio Conferences where those regulations are written and where delegates meet to determine, among other things how our frequencies will be divvied up among various nations?   Who was it that established our amateur radio bands?  Who was it that granted hams worldwide access to 30, 18 and 12 Meters back in 1979?  Likewise, who was it that kicked the international broadcasters off of 40 Meters not too long ago?  Does anyone remember the "Little LEOs" who were poised to grab our 2m and 70cm frequencies away from us worldwide?  Who was it that finally said "no" to such nonsense?  (Hint: It WASN'T the FCC!)

What’s more, when our FCC DID finally drop the Morse testing requirement, why did they also feel the need to explain their actions in their Report and Order that finally ended it all by citing the "international requirement" that had kept Morse testing firmly in place in the USA all these many years?

And, just so there’s absolutely NO misunderstanding regarding “what the FCC really said”, here's a DIRECT quote from the FCC’s Report and Order that dropped Morse testing for all of you to ponder:

“We nevertheless believe that the public interest is not served by requiring facility in Morse code when the trend in amateur communications is to use voice and digital technologies for exchanging messages," the FCC said. "Rather, we believe that because the INTERNATIONAL REQUIREMENT (emphasis mine) for telegraphy proficiency has been eliminated, we should treat Morse code telegraphy no differently from other Amateur Service communications techniques."

Note the FCC specifically called the need for Morse exam in our Service up to that point an "international requirement". They didn’t' call it an "international option", an "international guideline" or even an "international suggestion".  

Rather, the FCC specifically referred to such testing as an international "requirement".

It seems to me that by referring to such activity as an "international requirement", and making it a point to spend lots of money preparing for (and then sending large delegations to) periodic regulatory conferences conducted by the ITU, it is painfully obvious that our FCC clearly recognizes that the ITU Radio Regulations DO very much "have the force of law" in our Service in the United States of America.  

To me, this also means that both the spirit and the intent of what the ITU writes in those regulations must be treated as "requirements" that also need to be reflected in the FCC's own rules for our (and other) radio services.  

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: NN2X on September 23, 2010, 03:53:57 AM
Yes, indeed, many years ago, I remember I myself, was asking why the code? or why I had to study so hard to pass the Extra exam...Well, back then, (When USA) was very strong in engineering, math and others disciplines they did not lower the bar…they raised it. I am happy I did not have a choice, so I had to study hard..

Back then, we just did not lower the standards to passive any ideology, manufacturing pressures, or a quota. You either made the "Bar" or just don't get in the hobby..

Now we are all happy, we lowered the standards, not only in ham radio but across the board, the result…Well in ham radio we are “Operators” and for the USA work force we either higher foreigners to fill our needs of science, and math or out source..Great stuff../

It is all good, Although I have a BSEE, and MBA, I remember my first interview, and I told the GE (HR person) I had a Extra Lic, and back then it was at least equivalent to 2 Year Degree, It was totally accepted in the technology industry...I truly gave me a huge advantage of obtaining the job..The Technical Manager at GE asked questioned, have you ever built a radio or antenna? Of course yes, and many! Then he asked me real hard questions, there is no doubt all about knowing the material in ham radio, (Not memorizing a pool of questions), gave me this job..If today I had the same interview with today’s standards I would not have been able to answer those questions, and the result he would had hired Kumar, Mustafa or some other foreigner in which raises the bar in their country..

For me, what does having such high standards during my youth? It really means, that  I can compete internationally, so there a job, and send my child to the best schools, give my wife the best..All do the fact meeting a standard back then that was the highest, and not lowered to meet some type of agenda...

So continue to lower standards.. and watch the results…Not only in the Ham radio community, but our standard of living…

Side note..

I lived in 66 countries the last 32 years, and my job is to analyze the GDP, and disposal income for various countries for business..

I study and analyze our disposable income, and moreover how it is created, which  is based on our competitive skills to support exports,   

NN2X, Tom Wright


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on September 23, 2010, 04:21:37 AM
To NN2X:

Great stuff, Tom. A lot of us have similar stories, though we're not as well-traveled.

For example, on my college applications I mentioned that I had an Extra license and an all-homebrew station. I don't know for sure that it helped me get into EE school, but it sure didn't hurt.

But it should be remembered that there are other factors causing the decline of manufacturing and related industry in the USA.

1) US industry has long expected quick results and big profits from little investment, particularly in R&D. For example, while other countries were building state-of-the-art steel furnaces, USA steelmakers did not invest in them. While other countries were perfecting the manufacture of quality small cars, the USA was making them as an afterthought.

2) The USA pays for much of the rest of the developed world's defense. They spend their tax dollars on education, infrastructure, universal health care and other domestic stuff, while the USA spends more on our military than the next 13 countries combined. Also, US industry goes after defense contracts and ignores "consumer" stuff because defense is usually high-profit and immune to foreign competition.

3) For more than 30 years the USA has pushed policies of "free trade" - even though other countries don't. (Try importing a US-made car into Japan!). We've accepted enormous trade deficits rather than change policies.

4) The USA has avoided things like a coherent energy policy for decades, making us vulnerable. And we don't have to be.

5) US culture plays down the role of technology, and those who are knowledgeable in it. The mass media are particularly bad in this.

73 de Jim, N2EY   


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N3DF on September 23, 2010, 08:34:38 AM
Jim,

Quit jeopardizing my cushy job in DoD.

Neil N3DF


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on September 23, 2010, 12:07:07 PM
Yes, indeed, many years ago, I remember I myself, was asking why the code? or why I had to study so hard to pass the Extra exam...Well, back then, (When USA) was very strong in engineering, math and others disciplines they did not lower the bar…they raised it. I am happy I did not have a choice, so I had to study hard..
Pray tell, when was "back then?"  "Back then" for me was 1952 as a professional in HF communications.

This topic is NOT about the "economic fate of the world as dependent on the Amateur Extra class license."  It started off as a question on WHY HAVE IT AT ALL when there is NOW essentially no real operational distinction of the Extra to, say, General class...except some small slices within the already small-sliced HF bands of USA AMATEUR RADIO.  Please keep in mind that this IS amateur radio, a NON-professional avocation which is not allowed monetary gain for communications services (hence the title of Amateur Radio Service).

Quote
Back then, we just did not lower the standards to passive any ideology, manufacturing pressures, or a quota. You either made the "Bar" or just don't get in the hobby..
Time NOW is NOT "back then."  Outside of worship at the Church of St. Hiram, I have no idea of what you mean by "passive any ideology."  Having been gainfully employed in the aerospace electronics industry since 1956, I have not heard of any "manufacturing pressures or a quota" in USA amateur radio.

I sincerely suggest that you take this "editorial" to the Miscellaneous Topics Forum and vent there on economics, outsourcing, ideology, quotas, or "highering" of foreigners.

73, Len K6LHA


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KB1SF on September 23, 2010, 12:57:45 PM
Yes, indeed, many years ago, I remember I myself, was asking why the code? or why I had to study so hard to pass the Extra exam...Well, back then, (When USA) was very strong in engineering, math and others disciplines they did not lower the bar…they raised it. I am happy I did not have a choice, so I had to study hard..

Back then, we just did not lower the standards to passive any ideology, manufacturing pressures, or a quota. You either made the "Bar" or just don't get in the hobby.

Correction…persons couldn't get into the PROFESSIONAL Amateur Radio Service back then because the standards for entry established by their fellow PROFESSIONALS at the ARRL and FCC went well beyond those required for AMATEURS.

Up until the ARRL (and their willing stooges in the FCC) rammed their stupid "incentive licensing" nonsense down people's throats, ham radio in the United States had been growing by leaps and bounds.  Clearly, this posed a dire threat to the sanctity of their ego-stroking, "Good Old Boy's Radio Club",

So, in the 1950s, they needlessly "dumbed UP" the standards for entrance and advancement in our Service.  

As a result of this chicanery, a whole lot of people actually LOST operating privileges they had already been granted. And that rapid growth in our Service in the United States all but stopped. What's more, a whole bunch of US radio manufacturers (with names like World Radio Labs, Hallicrafters, Hammarlund, Swan and Johnson-Viking just to name a few) eventually went "belly up", all so a bunch of self-proclaimed "Extra Class professionals" in the ARRL, FCC and elsewhere could continue to get their "exclusive" ego-stroking jollies.  

Clearly, if today's federal equal access laws had been in place back then, these clowns would have NEVER been able to legally get away with such systemically discriminatory, "incentive licensing" chicanery.

By contrast, along about this same time, radio regulators in Japan were making it far easier for ordinary people to become licensed in our Service in their country. Maybe that's why Japan now has the largest number of radio hams in the world, not to mention why most of us have since been using primarily Japanese-manufactured radio equipment in our radio shacks for the better part of the last half-century.

Quote
Now we are all happy, we lowered the standards, not only in ham radio but across the board, the result…Well in ham radio we are “Operators” and for the USA work force we either higher foreigners to fill our needs of science, and math or out source..Great stuff../

It is all good, Although I have a BSEE, and MBA, I remember my first interview, and I told the GE (HR person) I had a Extra Lic, and back then it was at least equivalent to 2 Year Degree, It was totally accepted in the technology industry...I truly gave me a huge advantage of obtaining the job..The Technical Manager at GE asked questioned, have you ever built a radio or antenna? Of course yes, and many! Then he asked me real hard questions, there is no doubt all about knowing the material in ham radio, (Not memorizing a pool of questions), gave me this job..If today I had the same interview with today’s standards I would not have been able to answer those questions, and the result he would had hired Kumar, Mustafa or some other foreigner in which raises the bar in their country.

Once again, gentlemen (and has Len has so eloquently noted) the International Telecommunications Union (the ITU) long ago established the basis and purpose of our Service to be nothing more than "A radiocommunication service for the purpose of self-training, intercommunication and technical investigations carried out by amateurs, that is, by duly authorized persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest."

Would you gents now please show us all where, in that very succinct, ITU definition of our Service, that amateur radio has been established to help you (or someone else) get a job or to further your professions?  

What part of "without pecuniary interest" in that definition of our Service don't you people understand?

Indeed, my own father was an electrical engineer hired by GE who worked in their design branches in Lynn, Mass and Somersworth, NH for many years.  And, like you, he also held a BSEE.  But he wasn't a ham, and, somehow he still managed to get hired by GE…right out of the University of New Hampshire.  And I'll also bet that you (like him) wouldn't have been hired back then solely on the strength of your ham radio accomplishments, either.  

What's more, people like Len (and hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of others in the United States) seem to have had extremely rewarding professional careers in radio communications and electronics technology without ever having held an amateur radio license.

Quote
For me, what does having such high standards during my youth? It really means, that  I can compete internationally, so there [sic] a job, and send my child to the best schools, give my wife the best..All do the fact meeting a standard back then that was the highest, and not lowered to meet some type of agenda...

All of which is yet MORE self-inflating, "I'm better than you because I have an Extra Class Amateur Radio license" snobbery.

The obviously inconvenient truth of the matter, Tom, is that the ARRL (and their willing stooges in the FCC at the time) needlessly established PROFESSIONAL standards for our Service "back then" primarily to keep the "non-radio-engineer", "techie-types" OUT of a radio service that was actually intended by the ITU to be specifically designed for such "non-engineers".  

Quote
So continue to lower standards.. and watch the results…Not only in the Ham radio community, but our standard of living…

Tom, I challenge you to show me ONE technology-based organization or institution whose entry and advancement standards haven't completely and fundamentally changed over the last 50 years as the technology they deal with has changed.  I also challenge you to name a single technological advancement that has had its birth within the crucible of amateur radio since the 1940s.  I'm not talking about adaptations of someone else's inventions.  I'm talking about stuff that was actually INVENTED here!

Even your company (GE) has now long since gotten out of the high-tech invention business. They, too, have largely become importers of someone else's technology.  Indeed, their primary source of wealth these days comes from GE Capital, who loans huge chunks of MONEY to large corporations and then makes billions off the interest.  

And while GE may still make washing machines and dryers in the USA, my hunch is that almost everything else they sell (from compact fluorescent light bulbs to so-called "smart" watt-hour meters) is now being developed and/or manufactured in China.  Indeed, there's one of those so-called "smart" units now installed on the side of my home.

The truth is that the world around our Service has fundamentally and completely changed.  Yet you people keep talking about amateur radio as if we were still on the cutting edge of societal and technological evolution.  The truth is that, thanks largely to the work of our "incentive licensing forever" zealots who have been quite successfully keeping our Service stuck in the technological and sociological "dark ages" for the last half-century, our Service in the United States of America has now become the poster child for the perpetuation of "ancient", primarily analog communication technologies along with horrifically regressive approaches to federal licensing.

The sad result has been that the best and brightest "amateur radio eligible", US youth today have been "voting with their feet" and are now investing their budding technological talents elsewhere. Clearly, as evidenced by the rapidly advancing average age of hams in the United States, our country's technologically brightest youngsters have consistently demonstrated they want absolutely nothing to do with what they perceive is a bunch of ever-aging "old geezers" who still firmly believe that demanding federally-examined proficiency in such arcane psycho-motor skills as the Morse code is still both meaningful and relevant.  

What's more, these bright young people are even less impressed with a radio service whose regulators (the FCC) and major membership organization (the ARRL) both still firmly believe that pushing 1950s-era, (primarily analog) communications technologies down people's throats via largely baseless (not to mention needlessly duplicative) systemically discriminatory written examinations still serves a valid regulatory purpose in a so-called "amateur" radio service in the 21st Century.  

The bottom line here, is not only are our advanced licenses (particularly that for the Extra Class) in the United States STILL needlessly based on professional (vice amateur) "standards", they are also still largely based on (now ancient) 1940s and 50s-era communications technologies to boot.

Unfortunately, the other sad truth is that the best and brightest of today's youth are now BYPASSING our Service and, instead, are going directly to work for those high-tech corporations who are "pushing the state of the art" with the very latest forms of (primarily digital) communications technologies.  These are many of the same communications technologies that have consistently remained unwelcome in our Service in the USA because they (gasp!) might in some small way cause interference to someone's ego-stroked, artificially walled-off, so-called "exclusive" AM, SSB and/or CW "fiefdoms".

Indeed, because our so-called "mainstream" amateur radio communications technology of today is so firmly mired in the far distant past, I suspect letting a potential employer know that you are a ham these days might actually be regarded by those doing the hiring at these high-tech companies as an excellent reason NOT to hire you!

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on September 23, 2010, 03:06:34 PM
By contrast, along about this same time, radio regulators in Japan were making it far easier for ordinary people to become licensed in our Service. Maybe that's why they now have the largest number of radio hams in the world, not to mention why most of us have since been using primarily Japanese-manufactured radio equipment in our radio shacks for the better part of the last half-century.

Japan still has four license classes.  Two classes (the 1st and 2nd classes) still require a 25 wpm test ("European text"; I suppose a Wabun test is no longer required).  The majority of Japanese hams do not hold a 1st or 2nd class ticket.  Today, most Japanese hams are on VHF/UHF only.   Perhaps this is due to population density more than license structure or equipment cost.

An English summary of the Japanese licensing structure (JARL): http://www.jarl.or.jp/English/2_Outline/A-2-1.htm (http://www.jarl.or.jp/English/2_Outline/A-2-1.htm)

Reciprocal Privileges (JARL) (effective 1985, probably stale after US, Canadian, Australian restructuring): http://www.jarl.or.jp/English/3_Application/Annex.htm (http://www.jarl.or.jp/English/3_Application/Annex.htm)

It's logically inconsistent to say that the Japanese manufacturers have enjoyed success in the US market since the 1960's simply because of a prior simplification of the Japanese licensing structure.  The demise of most American ham radio manufacturers in that era had little to do with code testing. The establishment of the 20 wpm Extra code test in the late 1960's simply met a similar challenge already established in Japan.  The Japanese have permitted codeless licensees the ability to operate QRP on HF within limited frequencies.  Even so, most of the Japanese rigs for export have been distinctly QRO.  Ironically, the QRP brands of note (Ten-Tec, Drake, now Elecraft, etc.) have been American!  Of course, there's the possibility that the Japanese produce different rigs for export and domestic use (indeed they do and have done so for quite some time.)  I think there are some less superficial factors at play here.

A number of possibilities for the decline of the "American Greats" include:

1) Rising cost of American parts and labor.

2) A favorable economic climate for Japanese manufacturers.

3) Reduction or elimination of tariffs on certain imported goods.

4) Japanese manufacturers could deliver products at the same or better quality for a consistently lower price (Toyota, anyone?)

5) Incentive Licensing.  This last possibility requires some contortions.

5a) It's not possible that all the disillusioned Generals that bailed after 1968/9 Incentive Licensing held up the American ham radio industry alone.  Nor is it possible to state that all the remaining operators preferred Japanese rigs to American rigs.  Even a conflation of these two possibilities cannot be proven. 

5b) Instead, one would have to first prove that American and Japanese rig sales declined for at least five years after the beginning of Incentive Licensing to establish that the new licensing scheme negatively impacted not only the number of hams but also their collective purchasing power.

5c) Only then could one argue the following point: "The decline in the number of American amateur radio operators after Incentive Licensing negatively impacted both the American and Japanese ham radio manufacturers."

5d)  And then, perhaps (but tentatively, and with a great deal more research): "The decline in the number of American amateur radio operators after Incentive Licensing negatively impacted American ham radio manufacturers to the point of bankruptcy or closure of some of these manufacturers."

The argument from Incentive Licensing is quite remote and difficult to prove.  Suffice to say, if I were to present a case for the decline of the American ham radio industry, I would start from a general economic standpoint (tariffs, monetary policy, exchange rates, and marketing), not Incentive Licensing.

If anything, the robust Japanese ham radio culture has thrived under standards even more strict than the American licensing system at the height of complexity.  The Japanese experience annuls any argument that restructuring is necessary for ham radio growth.  Indeed, the number of American hams increased steadily after Incentive Licensing.  We'll see a short term boost after the restructurings.  However, the loosening of testing standards will not be a panacea by any metric.

73, Jordan


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on September 23, 2010, 07:46:06 PM
It's logically inconsistent to say that the Japanese manufacturers have enjoyed success in the US market since the 1960's simply because of a prior simplification of the Japanese licensing structure. 

Here's what really happened:

The US consumer electronics industry - not just ham gear, but entire product lines - was lost to Japan and other Pacific Rim countries because they could make better stuff for less.

Try to buy a currently-made TV set that's Made In USA. Just try.

Yes, their labor cost was less. But that's not the whole story.

Their factories were newer, because they'd all been built after 1945. Their tax policies were different (Japan has very supportive tax structures for export goods). The USA's open-door trade policies towards imports helped in a big way.

There was also a full-scale abandonment of the consumer market by US electronics manufacturers because they could make more money focusing on "defense" and "aerospace" contracts than on highly competitive, low-markup consumer stuff. The Cold War and space race were in full swing back then; why scrape to make a few bucks on ham gear when there were huge cost-plus contracts being handed out? And the imports could not even bid on the contracts!
 
Worst of all, US companies would not invest in development, new technology, new plants, and Quality (look up a fellow named Deming) the way the Japanese did.

Early Japanese ham rigs could be pretty bad; ask anybody who had an early FT-101. But the Japanese learned from their mistakes, fixed them and introduced new models at a fast pace. exactly when American companies were not investing in the future. They followed the Quality methods and took over the market.

Meanwhile American rigmakers wouldn't change with the market. They wouldn't make the rigs hams wanted. Some didn't survive the loss of their founders. And because the Japanese made better stuff for less.

But they didn't all go out of business, nor in just a few years.

Let's take a look at how the American rigmakers fared:
 
Hallicrafters: Made its name in receivers. Made a few models of SSB transceivers in the 1960s (SR-150, SR-160, SR-400, to name a few) but they lost out to the competition (mostly Heathkit).

Hammarlund: Made its name in receivers too. Made only one or two models of SSB transceivers. Lost out to the competition (mostly Heathkit).

National: Made its name in receivers but did some interesting SSB transceivers. Trouble was, they cost too much and had some unusual quirks. For example, the NCL-2000 amp used expensive ceramic-metal tetrodes in a grounded-cathode circuit, when everybody else was using glass triodes in grounded-grid. An SB-220 cost a bit more than half the price of an NCL-2000 - guess which sold more.

Or ask anybody who bought an HRO-500 and tried to use it in a DX contest in a multi-multi setup...

Johnson: Made its name in AM/CW transmitters. Never marketed an SSB transceiver nor a ham receiver nor a matched-pair tx/rx set. They were still trying to sell slightly-updated versions of the 1950s era Ranger and Valiant in the late 1960s. That just didn't work. Then they went after CB and the land mobile market, and cleaned up.

Heathkit: Was bought by Zenith, who wasn't interested in ham gear. Then changes in technology reduced the savings of kit-building to almost nil.
 
Heathkit sold a LOT of ham gear all through the 1960 and 1970s. They made a complete line: SB-100/101/102, SB-300/301/303, SB-400/401, SB110, SB-200/201, SB-220/221, HW-100/101, HW-16, and many more. Solid state rigs like the SB-104 as well. I still have my HW-2036, built in 1977.
 
Heathkit was a major factor in the demise of other companies because they made a more-complete product line for less money. The HW-100/101 were two of the most successful ham rigs ever made - and they hit the market in 1968/69, just as incentive licensing took effect.

btw, Heath was selling ham gear well into the 1980s. long after incentive licensing went into effect in the late 1960s.

Eico: Never a major ham gear manufacturer. Made a few models of MOPA rigs, a decent VFO, and some accessories like a GDO, a keyer, and an AM modulator. Best known for the infamous 753 SSB transceiver, better known as the "Seven Drifty Three" because it would NEVER stop wandering! Anybody who had one eventually swore "Never Again"!

Collins was bought out by Rockwell. In the deal, they were required to still make ham rigs for a while, so they came out with the KWM-380. It cost a small fortune at the time, and not many sold. Rockwell bought Collins for the government contracts, not the ham radio stuff, and the amateur stuff was dropped as soon as possible.
 
All of them could not compete with the Kenwood/Icom/Yaesu triad, who sold rigs that had more features for less money.

Yet in 1968 a small company from Tennessee appeared in the amateur market, selling simple CW-only QRP sets. If incentive licensing was such a bad thing, Ten Tec should have failed, right? Yet TT not only survived but branched out and made many different kinds of amateur rigs. And still does today.

If incentive licensing was so bad, how did Ten-Tec survive and grow so fast?

Look at what happened to the American car companies in the same time frame - and for the same reasons. Chrysler nearly went bankrupt; only Federal loan guarantees and drastic action by Lee Iacocca saved the company.

I repeat: Incentive licensing did not kill off the American rigmakers. They partially did it to themselves, by not making the rigs hams wanted. Japanese competition did the rest.
 
For example, look at all the HF SSB transceivers made by those companies. None of them was really good on CW. Sure, they all could do the mode - sort of. But very few had RIT, a multipole sharp IF filter, or AGC off. None had all three, even as options.
 
But a Kenwood TS-520S had all those features, and lots more. Guess what rig the CW ops bought?

5b) Instead, one would have to first prove that American and Japanese rig sales declined for at least five years after the beginning of Incentive Licensing to establish that the new licensing scheme negatively impacted not only the number of hams but also their collective purchasing power.

5c) Only then could one argue the following point: "The decline in the number of American amateur radio operators after Incentive Licensing negatively impacted both the American and Japanese ham radio manufacturers."

5d)  And then, perhaps (but tentatively, and with a great deal more research): "The decline in the number of American amateur radio operators after Incentive Licensing negatively impacted American ham radio manufacturers to the point of bankruptcy or closure of some of these manufacturers."

You're heading down the wrong path. Here's why:

The number of American amateur radio operators did NOT decline after the changes known as incentive licensing went into effect! Just the opposite happened

When I got my license in 1967, there were about 250,000 US hams. Today there are over 694,000. That's almost a tripling of the US amateur population.

Meanwhile the US population as a whole has grown from 200 million in 1967 to 311 million today - a bit more than 1.5 times. Which means the number of US hams has grown at about twice the rate of the population as a whole.

That's the long-term view. Here's some more detail in how the number of US hams has changed compared to the US population:

Year__Population__# Hams_Hams as % of US Population
1913   97,225,000     2,000  0.002%
1916 101,961,000     6,000  0.006%
1921 108,538,000   10,809  0.010%
1930 123,202,624   19,000  0.015%
1940 132,164,569   56,000  0.042%
1950 151,325,798   87,000  0.057%
1960 179,323,175 230,000  0.128%
1970 203,211,926 263,918  0.130%
1980 226,545,805 393.353  0.174%
1990 248,709,873 502,677  0.202%
2000 281,421,906 682,240  0.242%
2010 311,000,000 694,000  0.223%

The growth has been faster in some periods than others, of course, but if incentive licensing was so awful and made so many hams quit, why did the numbers grow so much in the decades after it was introduced?

The rules changes known as incentive licensing went into effect in November 1968 and 1969.

From 1960 to 1970, the number of US hams grew by about 34,000, and the percentage increased .002%. From 1970 to 1980, when the alleged negative effects of incentive licensing should have been the greatest, the the number of US hams grew by about 130,000, and the percentage increased .044%.

Decline? What decline? The premise is false; there's no reason to disprove the conclusion.

One more fun fact:

Some folks make a big deal about the 20 wpm Extra code requirement of those days. But the reality was somewhat different.

When the incentive licensing changes went into full effect in 1969, the Extra-only bandspace consisted of the following:

- the bottom 25 kHz of the CW/data parts of 80, 40, 20 and 15 meters.

- the bottom 25 kHz of the 'phone parts of 75 and 15 meters.

And that was all. Advanceds had everything except those parts. On 40 and 20 phone, as well as 160, 10 and VHF/UHF, Advanceds had the same 'phone bandspace as Extras.

Which means that a General class 'phone operator could get back almost all of the lost 'phone bandspace by getting an Advanced, which required only a written exam - no additional code testing at all.

But the Advanced conveyed no additional CW/data bandspace on HF. The General Class CW op had to go all the way to Extra to get back the lost space on 4 bands. And for that General, the Extra required 2 written exams plust the 20 wpm code.

IOW, the CW op had to pass more tests - written and code - to get back lost bandspace.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on September 24, 2010, 03:41:55 PM
Japan still has four license classes.  Two classes (the 1st and 2nd classes) still require a 25 wpm test ("European text"; I suppose a Wabun test is no longer required).  The majority of Japanese hams do not hold a 1st or 2nd class ticket.  Today, most Japanese hams are on VHF/UHF only.   Perhaps this is due to population density more than license structure or equipment cost.
Having spent 3 years of my life IN Japan as part of my US Army service, I'd say that Honshu (the main island of Japan) is not as "compact" as most would believe.  What Japan has in geography tends to be dominated by mountains and hills, limiting inter-Japan radio communications to LOS or NVIS propagation.  Japan is surrounded by oceans, has no land bridge to any continent, thus forcing an early dependency on sea travel for trade.  Since the first users of this new 'radio' by 1900 was the maritime community, they developed an early interest in 'radio' from a technical, academic standpoint.  With so little land capable of growing crops (compared to population) it was a win-win situation to develop manufacturing in all fields suitable for trade.

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An English summary of the Japanese licensing structure (JARL): http://www.jarl.or.jp/English/2_Outline/A-2-1.htm

Reciprocal Privileges (JARL) (effective 1985, probably stale after US, Canadian, Australian restructuring): http://www.jarl.or.jp/English/3_Application/Annex.htm

It's logically inconsistent to say that the Japanese manufacturers have enjoyed success in the US market since the 1960's simply because of a prior simplification of the Japanese licensing structure. The demise of most American ham radio manufacturers in that era had little to do with code testing.
Good concise summary and conclusion.  Thank you for the links.  I agree with your last statement as a result of my observation.  As one who had visited the famous Akihabara district of Tokyo, the Japanese electronics products were, by observation, test, and purchase, every bit as good as USA electronics parts of the 1950s.  Japanese home market sales of electronics concentrated on television sets followed by AM, then FM broadcasting receivers, and high-fidelity music systems.  Lesser market areas were industrial electric equipment, electric distribution systems, the telephone infrastructure (as examples).

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The establishment of the 20 wpm Extra code test in the late 1960's simply met a similar challenge already established in Japan.  The Japanese have permitted codeless licensees the ability to operate QRP on HF within limited frequencies.  Even so, most of the Japanese rigs for export have been distinctly QRO.  Ironically, the QRP brands of note (Ten-Tec, Drake, now Elecraft, etc.) have been American!  Of course, there's the possibility that the Japanese produce different rigs for export and domestic use (indeed they do and have done so for quite some time.)  I think there are some less superficial factors at play here.
I don't quite agree with that.  Americans tend to focus too sharply on American products and set themselves up as "judges" of what other countries do...and top it off by the "who won WWII?" challenges that are old, dusty, and quite trite by now.  'Radio' was first demonstrated in Italy and Russia, not the USA.  The first vacuum tube came out of the UK.  The FIRST 'radio' mode for all radio services but broadcasting was on-off keying of Spark, or later CW, for the first quarter century after 1896.  Obviously, there was a mythos established about "CW" and the publications about 'radio' made such domination (and mythos) firm until it lingers to this new millennium.

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A number of possibilities for the decline of the "American Greats" include:
Most of those focus too tightly on popular American lore and fail the whole socio-political upheaval over most of the world due to WWII.  For example, the "rising cost of American labor" has been going on since before WWII and is such an established fact now that manufacturing labor costs are probably the highest in the world.

There wasn't so much "a favorable economic climate for Japanese manufacturers" as it was the descendants of the daibatsu GOING OUT INTERNATIONALLY TO DRUM UP BUSINESS.  They did that agressively in most countries, even to South America (a neutral in WWII)...on any product line made in Japan from the 1960s onward.

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4) Japanese manufacturers could deliver products at the same or better quality for a consistently lower price (Toyota, anyone?)
Japanese manufacturers have been outsourcing production for over two decades, usually to other countries in Asia.  That isn't a crime or even badness, just good business sense.  Peripherals and some internal parts of my Icom 746Pro are made in China.  ASSEMBLY of ICs (transistor and ICs invented in the USA, but not specifically for amateur radio) has been done for at least three decades.

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5) Incentive Licensing.  This last possibility requires some contortions.
Improbabilities rather than "contortions."  :D

From the 1960s onward there began in increase in foreign trade goods to the USA...as well as a USA population that had more disposable income to spend for luxury items along with more leisure time to enjoy them.  That would naturally lead to an increase in amateur radio hobbyists as well as many, many other hobbies.  In addition there were changes in the technology involved in many different areas.  In electronics alone the PCB had begun to replace the labor-intensive point-to-point wiring that had dominated the industry for decades.  Transistor technology had improved enough to make the IC possible.  Not everyone in the industry could adapt to such changes and some of the "old" companies just could not change enough to be competitive.  The shake-out of competition led to folding old corporations.  Halligan's Chicago group was one of the first to go.  Teletype Corporation, one a virtual monopoly on teleprinters with wonderful mechanical design couldn't shift to all-electronic terminals and join the failing group of Chicagoites.  On the other hand Galvin Manufacturing, also in Chicago and newly changed to the Motorola corporate name, established a semiconductor division in the southwestern USA and profited.  Motorola diversified in the mobile radio and would diversify further in newer mobile radios.  Admiral and Zenith, both in Chicago suburbs tried their best to keep on making TV sets; despite some good innovations by the Siragusa brothers at Admiral, they couldn't go beyond those old TV boundaries and ended up out of the business.  RCA Corporation weathered the buy-out by GE and acquistion by the French Thomson group and kept making color TV sets in Indianapolis, IN, their original site, also the last surviving maker of domestic TV receivers.

It is unlikely that Collins Radio (the original) had planned to take over any amateur radio market since they developed deep penetration into commercial and military avionics just after WWII.  That latter activity keeps on going in a reorganized Collins Radio company.  Their trumpeted "PTO" found a brief home in auto radio tuning controls and made them a leader in linear-frequency tuning but were eclipsed by the PLL and DDS systems to come.  Their most technologically-advanced product was the magnetostrictive bandpass filter which, according to a west coast division making/marketing them, was originally done for frequency-multiplexed radio relay systems, not for those seeking a "name" for SSB and "CW" reception.  General Electric diversified a-plenty and had a virtual monopoly in mobile 2-way radio for public safety and commercial business radio applications.  GE would eventually buy RCA Corporation, itself well-diversified but plagued by bad business decisions mainly in mainframe computing and had no choice but to fold.  IBM has teetered from time to time on selling out but relies mainly on the cachet it developed among business people prior to WWII...not to mention doing basic computing research and getting as many patents on that as possible.  The IBM PC, built in Boca Raton, FL, was one of the first PC firms to close after a flock of CP/M-OS PC companies quitting.  The IBM PC is traceable to the success of Microsoft in putting one over on giant IBM by licensing, not selling, its operating system (MS buying that from a small independent software house).

In the electronics industry everything is made of the same basic parts operating to laws of physics, differing only in frequency and information rate...all assembled by unskilled-in-technology workers who become familiar with parts and how to assemble them.  Distinguishing between mobile radio for public safety use from amateur radio for mobile use is largely a legislative thing on paper.  The only thing separating all of those 'radios' is their operating frequency and components chosen to utilize those frequencies, regardless of the legislated end use.

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If anything, the robust Japanese ham radio culture has thrived under standards even more strict than the American licensing system at the height of complexity.  The Japanese experience annuls any argument that restructuring is necessary for ham radio growth.
Japanese electronics manufacturing has thrived mainly on their flexibility to adapt to the market and their own inguenuity in technology.  They are aggressive in that and have penetrated the electronics market so well that they are the present electronics leaders in Asia.  Japanese amateur radio was one of several activity areas benefiting from that.  It wasn't the other way around.

If "strict regulations" is supposed to be such a good thing, it is difficult to explain that the USA has granted only 99 Commercial Maritime radio operator licenses (requiring high-rate "CW" testing) in the last 5 years!  The only answer to that is that maritime radio is no longer using "CW" as much as it did a century ago.  Not near as much.  Maritime communications and SOLAS has come up with BETTER alternatives which are in 24/7 use worldwide and have proven themselves over the last decade.

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Indeed, the number of American hams increased steadily after Incentive Licensing.  We'll see a short term boost after the restructurings.  However, the loosening of testing standards will not be a panacea by any metric.
The number of USA amateur radio licenses granted reached its peak on 2 July 2003 with 737,938.  As of yesterday (23 September 2010), the number of total licenses granted were 3,847 short of that figure with not much indication of increasing or decreasing the total.

I don't think that Keith Baker or myself "guaranteed any panacea by restructuring."  What we have both said was to raise the question on whether or not the CURRENT REGULATIONS reflect the operational capabilities of HAVING that Extra class.  We have both indicated that the CURRENT REGULATIONS aren't adequate to the task for OPERATION.

My idea, slightly off to one side of Keith's, is to have a TITULAR Amateur Extra class, achievable only by a 200 to 300 question voluntary examination to guarantee use of the TITLE and a very few perquisites such as priority in vanity call requests.  In my idea, there is NO operational advantage to this new Extra class on any allocated amateur band.  It is a compromise between the Rank, Status, Privilege system that exists now versus satisfy so many who are after only the Title and supposed pretige the Extra class has today.

As to LEGISLATED INCENTIVISM - as in the old "incentive plan" - I say that was always a lot of BS from its lobbyists.  If one didn't have the internal incentive to GET INTO amateur radio, how can they have any incentive to "learn more" as claimed?  If a licensee wants to learn more, there is ample opportunity for any licensee to learn MORE ON THEIR OWN.  There is no REAL learning by being able to operate on an HF band just a few KHz off the region open to all on that band, nor is there much sign that present-day question pools contain "higher" class license claims of "greater learning" by "upgrading."

73, Len K6LHA


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on September 24, 2010, 05:14:29 PM
First off Len, I want to say that I'm glad this thread is moving away from its CNN Crossfire/Jerry Springer beginnings into a more mellow consensus.  Maybe we can close the thread on a peaceful note.  Your analysis of the rise and fall of American electronics is very interesting.  This is especially true for someone who doesn't work in that field.

My idea, slightly off to one side of Keith's, is to have a TITULAR Amateur Extra class, achievable only by a 200 to 300 question voluntary examination to guarantee use of the TITLE and a very few perquisites such as priority in vanity call requests.  In my idea, there is NO operational advantage to this new Extra class on any allocated amateur band.  It is a compromise between the Rank, Status, Privilege system that exists now versus satisfy so many who are after only the Title and supposed pretige the Extra class has today.

I don't think that your proposal is a bad idea.  Maybe it would be better for the ARRL to joint administer this titular award with the FCC rather than create another level in the licensing system.  In any case, the 'Extra' title should go by the wayside.  I side with Jim that Basic/Limited/Full would be better than Technician/General/Extra.  Perhaps this new award could be the "Expert" or "Mentor Qualification".  

The "Mentor Qualification" should be restricted to operators that have held the Extra/Full for a certain period of time (two to three years?) 200 to 300 questions seem excessive, but I think we can all agree that the technical questions should remain in the FCC licensing system.  The new test could examine VE rights, responsibilities, and ethics; ARRL politics (i.e. role and responsibility of a Section Manager); club trusteeship and management; Official Observer responsibilities; and the coordination of special event stations and other extraordinary events.  No code would be required.  There is a separate Code Proficiency award from the League, so why have code endorsements?

Of course, any ham could run for ARRL positions, be a VE, manage a club (station trustees are almost always Extra for practical reasons), or coordinate special events.  Mentors would probably be more sought after for these positions.  However, a titular qualification will most certainly become a titular caste.  That's something to be wary of.

Mentors could administer the award qualification during a standard VE session.  Newington could ratify the qualification through a parallel but separate apparatus to the VEC.  The FCC could afford the ARRL award one legal privilege: priority in the Extra vanity call auction as you suggest.  Perhaps the "Experts" could have the first auction for a very desirable call.  Something tells me that the FCC can't discriminate in this way, but it would be an interesting possibility.      

Personally, I would not seek this award.  I am content to have full privileges and perhaps assist at VE sessions.  I guess that might make me a "less than" Extra, but I have no desire to get caught up in ARRL politics or play the license arms race anymore.  Nevertheless, I agree: at no point should the titular qualification exceed the operating privileges of a Full/Extra license.    

73, Jordan  


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on September 24, 2010, 06:32:47 PM
First off Len, I want to say that I'm glad this thread is moving
Maybe it would be better for the ARRL to joint administer this titular award with the FCC rather than create another level in the licensing system.

Increasing the number of license classes and/or having license classes that convey no additional operating privileges are both non-starters. They just won't happen; FCC doesn't have the resources nor the interest.

The "Mentor Qualification" should be restricted to operators that have held the Extra/Full for a certain period of time (two to three years?) 200 to 300 questions seem excessive, but I think we can all agree that the technical questions should remain in the FCC licensing system.  The new test could examine VE rights, responsibilities, and ethics; ARRL politics (i.e. role and responsibility of a Section Manager); club trusteeship and management; Official Observer responsibilities; and the coordination of special event stations and other extraordinary events.  No code would be required.  There is a separate Code Proficiency award from the League, so why have code endorsements?

What this really boils down to is a Technical & Operational Qualifications Award system, similar to the Code Proficiency system. The FCC doesn't have to be involved in either.

What could be done is for ARRL to administer various tests on different technical and operational subject areas at hamfests and other gatherings. Hams could pay a small fee, take the test(s) and earn various ratings and endorsements, same as with Morse Code.

There could be experience and achievement requirements as well as the test, too. For example, to earn a particular level of award might require showing a certain number of QSOs using various bands and modes (LoTW would make confirmation easy). Homebrew projects could be brought in for demonstration and evaluation.

Imagine an award where the ham would have to design and build a rig and antenna, put it on the air, make a certain number of confirmed QSOs with it, write up the whole thing and submit it for judging. Also pass a written test  on the techniques used.

Of course, any ham could run for ARRL positions, be a VE, manage a club (station trustees are almost always Extra for practical reasons), or coordinate special events.  Mentors would probably be more sought after for these positions.  However, a titular qualification will most certainly become a titular caste.  That's something to be wary of.

"Caste" is something a person is born into and cannot escape by accomplishments. That's exactly the opposite of what you're describing! The award system is one that recognizes accomplishment.

A bit of history:

The Extra class license was created in 1951, but from early 1953 until late 1968 it gave the same operational privileges as the General, Conditional and Advanced. As a result, very few amateurs got the Extra - which was one of the main reasons for the incentive licensing changes of 1968. FCC wasn't happy that so few hams went beyond the General in those years.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on September 24, 2010, 07:28:26 PM
Homebrew projects could be brought in for demonstration and evaluation.

Imagine an award where the ham would have to design and build a rig and antenna, put it on the air, make a certain number of confirmed QSOs with it, write up the whole thing and submit it for judging. Also pass a written test  on the techniques used.

Your proposal reminds me of county fairs. Instead of giant watermelons and pumpkins, hamfests could have awards for best tube rig, best solid state amp, and best new wire antenna design, among other categories.  This could be a lot of fun.  Besides encouraging technical advancement, these contests could engender friendly competition.  Why not?  "Prizes" could also include an article in QST or QEX, for example. 

Interestingly, the competition you propose is very similar to academic essay contests and grant writing.  Often academics submit essays for competition because of the cash prize.  But many also submit research for competition because a "win" increases personal reputation.  Both possibilities would be operative in this process.       

Of course, any ham could run for ARRL positions, be a VE, manage a club (station trustees are almost always Extra for practical reasons), or coordinate special events.  Mentors would probably be more sought after for these positions.  However, a titular qualification will most certainly become a titular caste.  That's something to be wary of.

"Caste" is something a person is born into and cannot escape by accomplishments. That's exactly the opposite of what you're describing! The award system is one that recognizes accomplishment.

Well, the early Vedic varna (caste is a Portuguese loanword) were originally organized according to occupation.  The overlay of birth as a fixed social marker did not appear until relatively later in Indian culture (i.e. 500 BC). ::)  I get paid to teach obscure factoids.

Still, wrong word.  Any achievement system can become a clique.  An inevitable consequence, perhaps, and maybe even desirable for some.

73, Jordan



Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on September 24, 2010, 08:09:13 PM
Your proposal reminds me of county fairs. Instead of giant watermelons and pumpkins, hamfests could have awards for best tube rig, best solid state amp, and best new wire antenna design, among other categories.  This could be a lot of fun.  Besides encouraging technical advancement, these contests could engender friendly competition.  Why not?  "Prizes" could also include an article in QST or QEX, for example.

Now you've got the idea! Imagine what such a system could do for hamfests and conventions.

The AWA has done something similar for years, with awards in a variety of categories. But AWA is only about antiques, and is not limited to amateur radio.

ARRL has already done something along this line with their two "Homebrew Challenges". The first challenge was to design and build a QRP rig for 40 meters that could do SSB and CW, and which cost less than $50 IIRC. They got several entries which met all the criteria.

The second challenge was for an amplifier to follow the QRP rig, and boost the RF out from 5 to at least 50 watts. Several ingenious entries met all the criteria, at surprisingly low prices. The price limit was $125, but the entries came in much lower- one at $32!

(Prices do not include power supply, headphones, key/mike, cables and other accesories, nor a computer if needed. But they do include the rig itself, housing, heatsink, knobs, etc.)

The entries have been featured in QST and on the ARRL website.

Interestingly, the competition you propose is very similar to academic essay contests and grant writing.  Often academics submit essays for competition because of the cash prize.  But many also submit research for competition because a "win" increases personal reputation.  Both possibilities would be operative in this process.

I think offering cash prizes heads down the wrong path. (After all, amateur radio is "without pecuniary interest".)

I also think there's a need to couple the technical with the operational. Simply building is great, but it's what the project can do on the air that's the real proof of a project's worth. Lab numbers are all well and good, but can the thing make QSOs?

"Caste" is something a person is born into and cannot escape by accomplishments. That's exactly the opposite of what you're describing! The award system is one that recognizes accomplishment.

Well, the early Vedic varna (caste is a Portuguese loanword) were originally organized according to occupation.  The overlay of birth as a fixed social marker did not appear until relatively later in Indian culture (i.e. 500 BC). ::)  I get paid to teach obscure factoids.

Still, wrong word.  Any achievement system can become a clique.  An inevitable consequence, perhaps, and maybe even desirable for some.

While the varna/caste may have started as a job description, it developed into something far more elaborate and inescapable. Western civilization wasn't much better, with its inherited titles, "nobility" and land grants.

Amateur Radio is, and always has been, exactly the opposite. Only achievement matters. A person can be rich and famous, but when s/he is on the ham bands it's operating savvy, skill and know-how that count. All the money and titles in the world will not buy those things. 

At least in the USA, there's no limit on the number of amateur licenses, nor on how many awards will be handed out if earned. The awards we're talking about are open to all; the only exception would be competitions where there would be a limit on the number of winners.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on September 25, 2010, 11:14:21 PM

First off Len, I want to say that I'm glad this thread is moving away from its CNN Crossfire/Jerry Springer beginnings into a more mellow consensus.
Thank you, but I've never watched a "Crossfire" or "Jerry Springer" show.  I cannot identify with either.  :D

On the other hand, I enter ANY debate aggressively and hold to my expressed opinions regardless of the psychological "injury" claimed by opponents.  "If they cannot stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."

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Your analysis of the rise and fall of American electronics is very interesting.  This is especially true for someone who doesn't work in that field.
Thank you again.  Despite being "retired" (but only from regular office hours), I can honestly say that there is no "FALL" of the American electronics industry.  That cannot be judged by a lifetime collection of QST periodicals.  What has happened is SEVERAL EVOLUTIONS in all manner of electronics.

The American electronics industry keeps increasing. If there is a conglomeration of corporate structures that is business, not necessarily of technology.  I no longer keep track of which corporation bought which other corporation.  That is a counterproductive exercise.

One of the common complaints on these forums, articles, venues, is the "failure" of venerable legends of amateur radio products.  I consider that baseless.  In business, it one can't compete in the marketplace, then TS for the failing company.  If an Asian country is the new "home" of innovative ham HF or VHF radios (I don't call them "rigs," rigs are what sailors play with on sailing vessels), then fine.  I don't use the denigrating term of "rice boxes" just because they are Japanese.

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Quote from: K6LHA on Yesterday at 03:41:55 PM
"My idea, slightly off to one side of Keith's, is to have a TITULAR Amateur Extra class, achievable only by a 200 to 300 question voluntary examination to guarantee use of the TITLE and a very few perquisites such as priority in vanity call requests.  In my idea, there is NO operational advantage to this new Extra class on any allocated amateur band.  It is a compromise between the Rank, Status, Privilege system that exists now versus satisfy so many who are after only the Title and supposed prestige the Extra class has today."

I don't think that your proposal is a bad idea.
I only SUGGESTED a COMPROMISE for the Extra class.  A drastic revision of what it once WAS, but a compromise to preserve what so many express as a TITLE, a thing of pseudo-importance that many extras use as some kind of status symbol.

At present there just isn't any operational difference between extra privileges that doesn't boil down to PREVIOUSLY-LEGISLATED band slices on HF.  The FCC uses a largely titular priority system to award vanity call signs based on class.  But, the old 20 WPM code test went away in 2000 and it is highly doubtful that it, or any other code test will ever return.  There is nothing else to qualify BEING an extra class except a paltry 50-question written test.

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Maybe it would be better for the ARRL to joint administer this titular award with the FCC rather than create another level in the licensing system.
NO!  I will NOT agree with that.  The minority special interest group of the ARRL is a failed wannabe oligarchy in USA amateur radio.  I don't propose an "award."  I would SUGGEST that Part 97 be changed to GRANT NEW Amateur Extra class licenses under the class name of Amateur Extra on the basis of passing a MORE COMPREHENSIVE written test.  Okay, if Extras want to truly BE EXTRA then show US. 

They can't do it with a code test since that went into the dumpster over 10 years ago.  What else is there?  A mere 50 questions.  1.43 times as many questions as on the General written test.

The word "extra" doesn't have any true emotional baggage to it.  "Expert" has more baggage than a than a carry-on bag.  It doesn't apply as 'expert' since 300 questions would be insufficient to make them truly xpert in my opinion.  The Press calls anyone with true/false credentials "expert" if they have a title and know more than a reporter.  That's so terribly bogus, yet it is heard every day on TV news.

Unless the United States Congress passes another Law making the ARRL somehow associated in rule-making WITH the FCC, I'm not going along with giving this failed oligarchy-wannabe minority membership organization ANY power other than being an amicus curiae such as in having a VEC for
testing or coordinating repeater frequencies.  If the ARRL were made part of the federal government, then they couldn't keep that "tax-free" status that helps five paid officials get six-figure annual incomes.

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In any case, the 'Extra' title should go by the wayside.
I think it is just fine as it is.  This isn't about a TOTAL GROSS RESTRUCTURING of USA amateur radio, it involves ONLY the Amateur Extra class license in the USA.

"Extra" just involves MORE than 'lesser' classes.  It would be up to the NCVEC QPC to come up with the questions - as they do now - except they would be stuck with generating MORE of them.  For EXTRA KNOWLEDGE.  How is such extra knowledge demonstrated?  By testing on a variety of subjects applicable to all amateur radio.

What would "Expert" denote?  Other than significying the grantee some "high, distinguised" honor?  Expert in DX hunting?  Expert in Contesting?  Expert in designing an all-purpose full-HF transceiver
for $99.95?  Expert in BSing others that they are Great Gurus of all things HF?  I'm serious...using TITLES inappropriately runs the risk of emotional attachment that has NOTHING to do with knowledge of regulations or technology.

"Extra" isn't personalizing anything.  It would just mean passing of a bigger test element.  For my suggestion it means only passing a lot more test questions.  A passing of that should indicate SOME worthiness for greater prestige...which is what many already want in USA amateur radio classes.

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The "Mentor Qualification" should be restricted to operators that have held the Extra/Full for a certain period of time (two to three years?) 200 to 300 questions seem excessive, but I think we can all agree that the technical questions should remain in the FCC licensing system.
I won't agree on a NEW WORD just because there might be a CHANGE.  Changes don't have to be wholesale.  The old class of Extra seems good enough, is non-specific emotionally, and all that would be involved is a lot more questions.

"Mentor" has connotations of TEACHING.  Many think they can "teach" but few have the sensitivity to nderstand their "students," more especially if their "students" aren't understanding what they are supposed to be learning.  If that sensitivity isn't there, no amount of "qualifications" are going to make that "mentor" a true mentor/teacher.

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However, a titular qualification will most certainly become a titular caste.  That's something to be wary of.
What makes you think WE do "NOT" have a "caste?"  OLD Extras have been "caste" (in bronze, by hemselves) ever since there was a 20 WPM "CW" test!  :D

The SIX-TIERED USA amateur radio class situation was the HEIGHT of a CLASS-SOCIETY with definite castes.  The FCC saw fit to reverse that class distinction by eliminating NEW grants for three out of six classes on 22 December 1999 with Memorandum Report and Order 99-412.  That R&O also put a cap on the maximum morse code cognition rate of 5 WPM, a definite sign that they were NOT for any more code testing once ITU-R Special Radio Regulation S25 was changed...and that was changed at WRC-03 three and a half years later...despite the objections of the ARRL.

Haven't you heard of the "extra lite?"  A deragatory label applied to all those who obtained an Extra class license after Restructuring went into effect.  It was used quite often by those "comradely" fellow hobbyists who demanded that all should do as THEY did, quite possibly in full disregard of the AW as it stood.  That's just ONE example of both a "caste" that developed through the very definite lass distinction system that grew and grew within USA amateur radio.

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Mentors could administer the award qualification during a standard VE session.
NOT NEEDED.  VEs are PROCTORS already.  There is NO NEED for more administration and make-work at test sessions.  This suggestion of mine is NOT an "award."  It is simply an extension of an existing test element.   The operating playing field would now be more open.  The only effect is on the NCVEC QPC to come up with more questions for the Extra test.

MENTORS have no place in license test sessions.  The time of testing is NOT for "mentoring."  That would be BEFORE a test.  DURING a test is when the applicant must answer questions to prove their bility to hold an amateur radio license.

By evening the playing field it would be easier to regulate band occupancy by MODE rather than any icense class distinction.  Regulation of band use by MODE has more harmonization with the rest of the world.   The minority special interest group known as the ARRL has NO legal business in representing the (approximately) 3/4 of the licensed radio amateurs who are NOT members of the ARRL.

73, Len K6LHA


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KB1SF on September 26, 2010, 03:27:45 AM
"Extra" isn't personalizing anything.  It would just mean passing of a bigger test element.  For my suggestion it means only passing a lot more test questions.  A passing of that should indicate SOME worthiness for greater prestige...which is what many already want in USA amateur radio classes.

..."It would just mean passing of a bigger test element".....for what purpose?  What REGULATORY purpose in our licensing structure would such a federally mandated and administered "bigger test element" serve, Len?

Simply creating (or maintaining) a federal examination just so people can get their "I'm better than you" jollies is no longer legally supportable in the United States.  Period.  

Indeed, it's this kind of regulated snobbery that makes our current Extra Class examination so blatantly illegal today.  Our so-called "Extra Class" license (and the federally mandated examination one must successfully pass to get it) serves absolutely no useful REGULATORY purpose in the mix.  That's because, as I have very clearly shown (and you have seemed to agree) that there is no basic, fundamental operational difference between the privileges granted to an Extra Class licensee in our Service vice those granted to General or Advanced Class licensees. None. Zip. Nada.

So, unless and until the FCC decides to withhold OPERATIONAL (vice ego-stroking "prestige-based") privileges from lower-class licensees (like the Canadians and a whole host of other countries currently do) then such an "ego stroking" approach to licensing...in any form...simply won't pass legal muster in the USA.

Now, there is absolutely NOTHING that prevents an ARRL (or some other organizational entity) from offering a whole series of privately-funded "certifications" based on some "achievement-based" criteria of their own making.  

These "certifications" could be set up in a scheme similar to the certifications one achieves in a business or profession, such as a "certified financial planner", or a "certified project management professional".  Indeed, there are a whole host of private, for-profit (and non-profit) companies that have been specifically established to set up training courses and certification procedures for just these kinds of certifications.

But these certifications would all have to be based on criteria established in the private sector and have NOTHING to do with the federal government offering (or withholding) access or operational privileges in the publicly-owned, taxpayer-supported Amateur Radio Service if those certifications are to pass federal legal muster.

73,

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: NO6L on September 26, 2010, 09:27:39 AM

Japan still has four license classes.  Two classes (the 1st and 2nd classes) still require a 25 wpm test...

Look again, it says "25 characters a minute", which works out to about 5 or 6 wpm. A huge difference.

Actually, in gauging CW speed, characters per minute makes vastly more sense because words per minute is ambiguous, "how long is a word"? It can be any length, 1 character, 7, 15 or more. Where as there is, except for punctuation and pro-signs, at most 5 elements in a CW character. Very easy to average out.

Once again, The Japanese way makes more sense...

73

/end of line


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KH6AQ on September 26, 2010, 11:53:32 AM

Try to buy a currently-made TV set that's Made In USA. Just try.

Olevia televisions are made in the U.S.A.


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on September 26, 2010, 12:03:45 PM
Japan still has four license classes.  Two classes (the 1st and 2nd classes) still require a 25 wpm test...

Look again, it says "25 characters a minute", which works out to about 5 or 6 wpm. A huge difference.

Okay, totally my bad.  Didn't catch that.  ::)  Pox on me. 

Actually, in gauging CW speed, characters per minute makes vastly more sense because words per minute is ambiguous, "how long is a word"? It can be any length, 1 character, 7, 15 or more. Where as there is, except for punctuation and pro-signs, at most 5 elements in a CW character. Very easy to average out.

Quite true.  The American standard for gauging a code "word" is PARIS (why, I don't know.  Does anyone?)  CPM is the standard for the rest of the world, and much more accurate.

Then again, we Americans lead the world in metrical obstinacy.  Whenever I cross the 49th, I have to start multiplying 1 km by 1.6 on the fly. It's so strange how many of the highway signs in Quebec still read 1,6 km and 800 m.  Trudeau could force base 10 on the roadways but couldn't help pay to move the signs, I suppose.  ???  ;)   
 
73, Jordan


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on September 26, 2010, 12:29:57 PM

Try to buy a currently-made TV set that's Made In USA. Just try.

Olevia televisions are made in the U.S.A.

I went searching, and it looks like the company went bankrupt 2 years ago:

http://news.cnet.com/8301-1001_3-9985607-92.html

The only Olevia website I could find is a Hong Kong one.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on September 26, 2010, 12:53:36 PM
Actually, in gauging CW speed, characters per minute makes vastly more sense because words per minute is ambiguous, "how long is a word"? It can be any length, 1 character, 7, 15 or more. Where as there is, except for punctuation and pro-signs, at most 5 elements in a CW character. Very easy to average out.

Quite true.  The American standard for gauging a code "word" is PARIS (why, I don't know.  Does anyone?)  CPM is the standard for the rest of the world, and much more accurate.

The problem is that Morse Code uses a form of Huffman coding, in which the most-frequent characters use the shortest codes and the least-frequent characters use the longest codes. Of course this varies with the language, and whether you are considering plain-language text, code groups, or mixed text and numbers.

The "standard word" (in English) has been widely accepted to mean 5 characters, the 4 spaces between them, and one word space. It turns out that "PARIS" is a very accurate approximation of the length of English plain text. IOW, if you set the sending speed to a particular number of PARISes per minute, plain-text English will come out to the same number of words per minute.

For code groups, where each character has the same probability of use, the word "CODEX" is used. Note that it takes longer to send CODEX than PARIS if the basic dit speed is the same.

WPM for plain text English can also be determined by seeing how many dits per second can be sent, or the speed in bauds:

WPM = 2.4 times dits per second

WPM = 1.2 time baud

btw, in the past the Japanese code test requirements were faster, and required tests in both International Morse and the Japanese version.

btw2: Japan appears to have the most amateur radio operators in the world, if you look at the number of operator licenses. However, Japan's license system is quite different from ours, in a couple of ways that affect the numbers:

1) Japan issues separate operator and station licenses.

2) Operator licenses are free, and do not require renewal. Station licenses require a small fee and annual renewal. The number of station licenses is far below the number of operator licenses, and the number of JARL members is about half that of the ARRL.

3) The lower-class licenses are not cancelled when a licensee upgrades. A Japanese First Class licensee actually holds First, Second, Third and Fourth class operator licenses, and is counted four times in the license totals.

I read somewhere that Japanese operator licenses are cancelled after 125 years, and that Japan started from scratch in 1952, when the occupational government handed authority back. So the operator license totals are really the number of people licensed as amateur radio operators in Japan since 1952.

Imagine if the USA used the same methods in counting operator licenses!

Then again, we Americans lead the world in metrical obstinacy.  Whenever I cross the 49th, I have to start multiplying 1 km by 1.6 on the fly. It's so strange how many of the highway signs in Quebec still read 1,6 km and 800 m.  Trudeau could force base 10 on the roadways but couldn't help pay to move the signs, I suppose.  ???  ;)   


No, it's just Canadian practicality. Why change signs if they're not worn out?

I remember being told that the USA would be totally metric by 1980....

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on September 26, 2010, 01:13:06 PM
..."It would just mean passing of a bigger test element".....for what purpose?  What REGULATORY purpose in our licensing structure would such a federally mandated and administered "bigger test element" serve, Len?
Easy does it, Keith.  My SUGGESTION is simply a COMPROMISE between old and new.  To quote another, "it is about what hams DO" in the USA.  :D

Quote
Simply creating (or maintaining) a federal examination just so people can get their "I'm better than you" jollies is no longer legally supportable in the United States.  Period. 
Licensees who ONCE took a 20 WPM code test can still claim they "are better than most" as they have for the decade since the code test rate was topped-off at 5 WPM.  They are still claiming that 3 1/2 years after the FCC stopped code testing altogether.  But, we still have that exclusive HF band slices allocated for Extras who passed 20 WPM...which is 3 1/2 years of CURRENT exclusivity that is legal NOW but serves NO other purpose than to "please" egos of long-time Extras.

There are several areas within Part 97 to be changed.  The first one is to get rid the sub-band allocation by CLASS.  Level the playing field, harmonize with the rest of the amateur radio world on frequency allocations.  Allocate sub-bands by MODE rather than class as other countries do.  Test elements can be renumbered to remove the NO LONGER NEEDED test element 1.  Note: It took the FCC many years to correct a definition document referring to telegraphy standards from the obsolete CCITT number to the correct ITU-T document so I don't expect the FCC to rush into correcting their test element numbering.

There is NO "snobbery" to my mind to have a much-larger written test for Amateur Extra.  Since they wouldn't have EXCLUSIVE band slices, they can keep their priority status for vanity call assignments, be VEs to proctor license exams, be members of repeater frequency cooridination teams, and other tasks which require a greater INTELLECTUAL KNOWLEDGE BASE in amateur radio activities.  None of that impinges on any perquisites Amateur Extras have NOW except for losing sub-band exclusivity.

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Indeed, it's this kind of regulated snobbery that makes our current Extra Class examination so blatantly illegal today.
I'm not an attorney, much less a communications regulatory specialist in law.  I do not see anything "illegal" about the present-day Amateur Extra class.  I call it as being in a TRANSITIONAL PHASE of regulation.  Since the code test for amateur radio licenses was removed, there isn't any test element for tested high-rate code cognition available.  There is only the 50-question written test element for Extra.  My SUGGESTION is to INCREASE the size of that written test element to compensate for the no-longer available psychomotor skill test of morse code cognition.  My SUGGESTION does not take away any other amateur radio activities that require an Extra class license.

Yes, ANY licensing scheme having a class system will be an ego trip for someone.  That is not my oint nor do I consider ego trips to be "illegal" in terms of LAW.  The USA has (still) a 6-class icense structure as shown on federal databases.  That multi-class license structure was not fully compensated for in Restructuring (Memorandum Report and Order 99-412 released 22 December 1999).  The only thing 99-412 REALLY did was set the stage for code test elimination.  Novices and Adbanceds can renew indefinitely under the law.  As of 26 September 2010 there are still 3,106 Technician Plus icensees in their grace period.  Class distinction is still within USA amateur radio and the ego-tripping Extras are still with us today to remind everyone how much they are possessed of infinite wisdom in all matters.  :D

Is increasing the size of the Extra class test element from 50 to 200 questions "blatantly illegal?"  I doubt that.  Is eliminating the exclusivity of sub-band use only by Extras "blatantly illegal?"  I doubt that, too, but can see present-day Extras getting ready to battle for their old Entitlement
Rights that they think they earned.  :D

There is no, repeat NO, Political Correctness served to ELIMINATE THE AMATEUR EXTRA CLASS.  They are THERE and now make up 17.2% of all USA licensees.  Is HAVING an Amateur Extra class license "blatantly illegal" because of some differences with existing Part 97 regulations?  I think not.  The task ahead is more towards CORRECTING certain irrelevancies in Part 97 to continue the EVOLUTION of USA amateur radio regulations. 

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  Our so-called "Extra Class" license (and the federally mandated examination one must successfully pass to get it) serves absolutely no useful REGULATORY purpose in the mix.
I disagree, but only by myself viewing the whole of regulations as existing in a TRANSITIONAL phase. 

A lifetime of REALITY has shown me that drastic changes do not happen over-night or even next month. It takes TIME and perseverance.  It isn't served well by phraseology of "blatantly illegal" any more than the old trite rationale of some "we've always done it that way."

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Now, there is absolutely NOTHING that prevents an ARRL (or some other organizational entity) from offering a whole series of privately-funded "certifications" based on some "achievement-based" criteria of their own making.
I can care less about external certification.  I am concerned with the LAW of federal REGULATIONS in regard to USA amateur radio activities relative to the Amateur Extra class in this topic...of time NOW and for the FUTURE.   

73, Len K6LHA (always licensed as an Amateur Extra)


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on September 26, 2010, 01:20:14 PM
The SIX-TIERED USA amateur radio class situation was the HEIGHT of a CLASS-SOCIETY with definite castes.  The FCC saw fit to reverse that class distinction by eliminating NEW grants for three out of six classes on 22 December 1999 with Memorandum Report and Order 99-412.  That R&O also put a cap on the maximum morse code cognition rate of 5 WPM, a definite sign that they were NOT for any more code testing once ITU-R Special Radio Regulation S25 was changed...and that was changed at WRC-03 three and a half years later...despite the objections of the ARRL.

Haven't you heard of the "extra lite?"  A deragatory label applied to all those who obtained an Extra class license after Restructuring went into effect.  It was used quite often by those "comradely" fellow hobbyists who demanded that all should do as THEY did, quite possibly in full disregard of the AW as it stood.  That's just ONE example of both a "caste" that developed through the very definite lass distinction system that grew and grew within USA amateur radio.

Gosh, we've spilled so many pixels over this stupid contention.  This entire thread has become a discursive monster that dwarfs the Upanishads, the Kalevala, and War and Peace combined.  >:(  

I was going to give my usual spiel that I earned an Extra as a stupid 15-year-old.  I won't go on about how I am far from unique: many children earned Extras during the bad old days.  I didn't do it for fame.  I didn't do it because I thought I would join a club that resembles an unholy union of the Illuminati, the Astors, and the chairs of the NYSE.  I did it because it was another intellectual obstacle to scale.  I enjoyed the hike.  Conversely, I can't tell you how many language tests I have failed during my higher education.  I keep on moving since I know that eventually I'll pass the course or exam and will receive the mark of fluency.  In the meantime, I have to take some flak for not towing the line.  That's the way it is for most of us.

I will say this: I would never call someone an Extra-lite. We all labor under one inadequacy or another.  Hamlet intended to commit suicide when he railed against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.  Certainly, one should seek help if they feel like that!  Still, no one needs to play a tragic figure in a darn friggin' hobby.  What is intended for relaxation and enjoyment shouldn't become a booth for personal projections.

I can see your "caste" concerns in only one respect: older hams (and even young hams like myself) often come across as pushing CW on newcomers.  It's important for the "CW people" to look at this behavior through a newcomer's eyes.  "Do I have to know code and use CW to be a 'real' ham?"  "I had to wait until now to get a General or Extra because I just couldn't learn the code, and old hams are still pushing code on everyone?"  In that one respect, older hams are setting up implicit barriers based on assumptions about the motivations of new hams.  That should stop.  I will try to get it out of my head that every new ham has to attempt to learn the code, or he/she is lazy/not really committed to ham radio/unintelligent etc.

But please, let's bury this one.   

73, Jordan  


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on September 26, 2010, 02:54:26 PM
I was going to give my usual spiel that I earned an Extra as a stupid 15-year-old.  I won't go on about how I am far from unique: many children earned Extras during the bad old days.

But you should go on. Those *facts* make a very good point. They prove that the exams have never required high levels of "proficiency" nor engineering-level knowledge. They disprove the claims of "discrimination" and "barriers".

I didn't do it for fame.  I didn't do it because I thought I would join a club that resembles an unholy union of the Illuminati, the Astors, and the chairs of the NYSE.  I did it because it was another intellectual obstacle to scale.  I enjoyed the hike.

Same here.

In fact, I have seen many situations, old and new, where the challenge was what attracted newcomers - particularly young people.

I will say this: I would never call someone an Extra-lite.

Nor would I. But it works both ways!

We all labor under one inadequacy or another.  Hamlet intended to commit suicide when he railed against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.  Certainly, one should seek help if they feel like that!  Still, no one needs to play a tragic figure in a darn friggin' hobby.  What is intended for relaxation and enjoyment shouldn't become a booth for personal projections.

I can see your "caste" concerns in only one respect: older hams (and even young hams like myself) often come across as pushing CW on newcomers.  It's important for the "CW people" to look at this behavior through a newcomer's eyes.  "Do I have to know code and use CW to be a 'real' ham?"  "I had to wait until now to get a General or Extra because I just couldn't learn the code, and old hams are still pushing code on everyone?"

It depends on how the "pushing" is done.

It's one thing to insist that a certain skill or knowledge is essential to being a "real" ham. That's obviously not the case; what makes a "real" ham is mostly attitude, coupled with knowledge and behavior in the areas where the ham has an interest.

It's a completely different thing to insist that amateurs not promote their particular interest to others. Or that they not tell their stories. Or that they should not be proud of their accomplishments in amateur radio. 

More than a few times I've encountered amateurs new and old have only modest resources for a rig and antenna, yet want to get on the HF amateur bands and work the world. They've tried SSB and been disappointed with the results. Data modes don't turn them on either. Should I not say "Learn and use Morse Code", when I know how useful it would be under their circumstances?

For the past several years I've gone on Field Day with a local group and helped run the CW station. Every year up to this one, our single CW station and its few ops have made more points than all the rest of the effort combined. This year we had more than one CW capable station, and we made more than double the number of contacts as the rest of the effort.

Should we not mention such accomplishments? Not point out the superior results of our favorite mode?

As for "couldn't learn", consider that since 1990 - 20 years ago! - it has been possible to earn any class of US amateur radio license with no more than a 5 wpm code test. And that test could be passed in a variety of ways, with accomodations of many kinds.

5 wpm code is one character every 2.4 seconds. The entire required alphabet consists of 41 letters, numbers and punctuations. Yes, there may be a few for whom learning it would be a "barrier". But for how many was it more a case of "wouldn't" rather than "couldn't"?

Consider that many of the arguments once used against even the 5 wpm Morse Code test are now being used against the written exams. This thread started as a demand to effectively eliminate the Extra class license, by giving full privileges to Generals.

Suppose, just suppose, we were to convince FCC to change the rules and give full privileges to Generals. They would also have to give full privileges to Advanceds. And we'd be close to where we were back in the 1960s.

It's a safe bet that once the dust settled on those changes, there would be folks saying that Technicians should get full privileges too. After all, Techs can design, build, repair, align, test and most of all operate full-power rigs using any authorized mode on any authorized frequency above 30 MHz, so why not below 30 MHz? What makes 6 meters so much different from 12 meters in terms of the technical and operating knowledge needed to legally and safely operate an amateur transmitter?

At what point do we draw the line and say "no more reductions in qualifications"?

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on September 26, 2010, 09:30:10 PM
Quote
I was going to give my usual spiel that I earned an Extra as a stupid 15-year-old.  I won't go on about how I am far from unique: many children earned Extras during the bad old days.  I didn't do it for fame.  I didn't do it because I thought I would join a club that resembles an unholy union of the Illuminati, the Astors, and the chairs of the NYSE.  I did it because it was another intellectual obstacle to scale.  I enjoyed the hike.  Conversely, I can't tell you how many language tests I have failed during my higher education.  I keep on moving since I know that eventually I'll pass the course or exam and will receive the mark of fluency.  In the meantime, I have to take some flak for not towing the line.
Jordan, nobody is giving you "flak" for not "towing any line."  USA amateur radio is NOT a job or union or even a 'military service' and what you do is, or should be, for yourself.  Those in here or anywhere else who make all those "tow the line!" statements about "uniting" and "tradition" and all the other rationales and parroting words from a long-time membership association are themselves psychologically flawed or at least immature.  Most of them are authority-wannabes.  They just want everyone to do exactly as they did...without any reasoning behind it to back them up.

There's a difference between "ignorance" and "stupidity."  Ignorance is just a lack of knowledge, perhaps experience.  Stupidity is KNOWING the correct thing to do and NOT acting on that.  In general, 15-year-olds are NOT stupid.  They are simply "testing limits" if they act (according to some grown-ups) "stupid."  If they continue the same thing afterwards they ARE stupid.

Quote

That's the way it is for most of us.
Without referencing your single statement, THAT can be stupid.  In just amateur radio there's almost three-quarter-million licensees and probably a half million others who were once licensees and who dropped out or passed away.  It is impossible to say, with impugnity, "that's the way it is for most of us."

Quote
I will say this: I would never call someone an Extra-lite. We all labor under one inadequacy or another.  Hamlet intended to commit suicide when he railed against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.  Certainly, one should seek help if they feel like that!  Still, no one needs to play a tragic figure in a darn friggin' hobby.  What is intended for relaxation and enjoyment shouldn't become a booth for personal projections.
"Intentions" and "reality" are often different things.  The so-called Vanity callisign reassignment was lobbied for with the good intentions of carrying on some beloved family member's or friend's callsign in memoriam.  It is quite obviously what the FCC called it, a VANITY thing for most licensees, usually so they can APPEAR "old and wise" with a 1x2 or 2x1 callsign AS IF they were part of the early pioneers of radio propagation.  Few are that old now (whould have to be 90 to 100)  :D

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I can see your "caste" concerns in only one respect: older hams (and even young hams like myself) often come across as pushing CW on newcomers.  It's important for the "CW people" to look at this behavior through a newcomer's eyes.  "Do I have to know code and use CW to be a 'real' ham?"
"Newcomers?"  Between very early 1953 and very early 1956 I was engaged in 24/7 communication on HF with over three dozen high-powered transmitters while in the US Army.  Every single mode was either teleprinter or voice.  Not a single OOK CW circuit over that station.  "We got the message through" to the tune of 250,000 to 220,000 a month for all those messages.  Not only the transmitters but all the ancilliary equipment, the peripherals, general communications protocols, the routings, the reglar mainenance and how to do it properly on dozens of different pieces of equipment.  At the same time we had to keep up our regular soldiering training "to close with and DESTROY the enemy."  We did that training on OUR OFF-hours.  Most training times we used HTs and manpacks of the olive-drab kind carried along with our assigned weapons.  That's not even CLOSE to any "newcomer" training in a civilian amateur HOBBY activity.  Please don't call me a "newcomer" unless you've walked in the same path and in uniform as I did.  Since then I've successfully operated on 7 different civilian radio services plus on DoD contracts without needing any radio training as a "newcomer."

The whole code test controversy was legally based on a very simple, elementary law thing:  The FCC never mandated any licensed radio amateur to ONLY use OOK CW mode, plus they had quite clearly listed more than one OPTIONAL mode for all to use yet had NEVER had any proficiency or skill test in ANY of those optional modes.  Big broad bad DICHOTOMY there, far more illegal than KB1SF's charges and it was there for years.

The EMOTIONAL basis for that code test controversy was so many who had to undergo the code test for themselves DEMANDING that all newcomers DO THE SAME.  Plus we had all the old, tired, trite Maxims from that small suburb of Hartford printing all of them about how ALL US amateurs MUST do the code (or be damned to some everlasting heck).  From years before the League had Lobbied hard to keep code proficiency IN regulations including that "incentive plan" with three levels of code speed.  Oh, oh, oh, everyone has to do it!  If they don't they aren't Real Hams!!!

Meanwhile actual OOK CW use was diminishing around the world.  The maritime world developed the successor to the old 500 KHz international distress frequency (using "CW" of course) with GMDSS.  GMDSS was a success, contrary to what some (not so) expert opinions had it.  In the last 5 years the FCC has granted a total of only 99 radiotelegraph operator licenses, all requiring telegraphy testing.  Those are separate from the GMDSS operator licenses.

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But please, let's bury this one.
Why?  The people who trash those they think are anti-code won't stop.  They keep popping out of the woodwork without regard to others or the subject matter.  They don't realize the SUBJECT is dead and buried.  It went away in the USA with the release of Memorandum Report and Order 06-178 in December of 2006.   

73, Len K6LHA


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KB1SF on September 27, 2010, 09:05:56 PM
Easy does it, Keith.  My SUGGESTION is simply a COMPROMISE between old and new.  To quote another, "it is about what hams DO" in the USA.  :D

It's a nice try, Len, but your "suggestion" would simply perpetuate baseless, ego-stroking license classes that serve absolutely no regulatory purpose.

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Licensees who ONCE took a 20 WPM code test can still claim they "are better than most" as they have for the decade since the code test rate was topped-off at 5 WPM.  They are still claiming that 3 1/2 years after the FCC stopped code testing altogether.  But, we still have that exclusive HF band slices allocated for Extras who passed 20 WPM...which is 3 1/2 years of CURRENT exclusivity that is legal NOW but serves NO other purpose than to "please" egos of long-time Extras.

So, once again, I now have to ask you:  What regulatory purpose is served by perpetuating all that baseless nonsense?

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There are several areas within Part 97 to be changed.  The first one is to get rid the sub-band allocation by CLASS.  Level the playing field, harmonize with the rest of the amateur radio world on frequency allocations.  Allocate sub-bands by MODE rather than class as other countries do.

Not quite.  

Most other countries regulate their amateur services by emission bandwidth. That is, in these countries, they proscribe an upper frequency limit and a lower frequency limit for the band as a whole and then specify a maximum bandwidth the emissions on that band can occupy.  For example, in Canada, that emission bandwidth on most HF bands is 6 KHz (except for 1 KHz on 30 Meters).  Industry Canada then leaves the rest of the "what goes where" decisions up to we hams.

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There is NO "snobbery" to my mind to have a much-larger written test for Amateur Extra.  Since they wouldn't have EXCLUSIVE band slices, they can keep their priority status for vanity call assignments, be VEs to proctor license exams, be members of repeater frequency coordination teams, and other tasks which require a greater INTELLECTUAL KNOWLEDGE BASE in amateur radio activities.  None of that impinges on any perquisites Amateur Extras have NOW except for losing sub-band exclusivity.

I have no problem making the Extra Class exam (or whatever you want to call an "advanced" license in our Service) as "hard" as is required in order to help insure amateurs exercising the specific added privileges that license grants to do so safely, courteously, and without causing harmful interference to other hams or other services.

But that "hardness" MUST be based on granting those applicants who successfully complete it additional operationally-based privileges that have been specifically withheld from lower class licensees!  This also means that just "asking more questions" or (as is now repeatedly done now) simply asking more questions about privileges that have already been granted to lower class licensees just to make the test "harder" or "more comprehensive" doesn't cut it either

Or, to put it another way, if what's on this "new" Extra Class exam doesn't' specifically relate to the added privileges it grants, and the only reason for having it in the mix is to stroke people's egos, then once again it becomes nothing more than regulated snobbery.  

And, as I've repeatedly said, perpetuating that nonsense that's now blatantly illegal.  

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I'm not an attorney, much less a communications regulatory specialist in law.  I do not see anything "illegal" about the present-day Amateur Extra class.

Len, this is where you and I part ways.  

For a number of years it was an integral part of my job in the federal service to both update and develop governing regulations.  I also developed and administered courses of instruction and examinations for candidates seeking various certifications and qualifications within the federal service.  During that period, I routinely interacted with various external oversight agencies within the federal government regarding the continued validity of our various regulatory, hiring, firing and examination systems, particularly when it came to insuring all of our examination systems and personnel procedures complied with the US Code.  

What's more, after I left the federal service, I became a private consultant to several public and private agencies.  In this role it was my job to help these other agencies insure their regulatory and examination systems also passed legal muster based on the plethora of new federal equal access laws that came on the books in the United States during the early 1990s.  

The bottom line here is that, based on my PROFESSIONAL experiences with such issues, it remains my PROFESSIONAL opinion that what is now being perpetuated in the regulatory and licensing systems in our Service in the United States (particularly as it relates to the content and comprehensiveness of our examinations versus the operating privileges they grant) simply do not pass muster with current federal law.

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My SUGGESTION is to INCREASE the size of that written test element to compensate for the no-longer available psychomotor skill test of Morse code cognition

Sorry, Len, but once again, "increasing the written test element" simply because n unrelated Morse examinations have been eliminated without ALSO hooking that "increase" to granting previously withheld operational privileges for lower class licensees simply no longer passes muster under US federal law, either.  

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Is increasing the size of the Extra class test element from 50 to 200 questions "blatantly illegal?"  I doubt that.  Is eliminating the exclusivity of sub-band use only by Extras "blatantly illegal?"  I doubt that, too, but can see present-day Extras getting ready to battle for their old Entitlement Rights that they think they earned.  :D

Sorry, Len, but once again, what "present-day Extras" want (or don't want) is quite irrelevant under these laws.  

As I've noted before, many people in the South during the 1950s and 1960s "wanted" to indefinitely perpetuate separate bathrooms, hotels and water fountains for people of color.  But with the passage of the US Civil Rights Act in 1964, all of that blatant systemic discrimination was immediately rendered quite illegal under federal law, not only within the US Federal Service, but also within the rest of the USA as a whole.  

And, if you will recall, there was no "transition period" for that law, either.

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The task ahead is more towards CORRECTING certain irrelevancies in Part 97 to continue the EVOLUTION of USA amateur radio regulations.

Certainly, what's done is done.  

But, once again, indefinitely perpetuating a whole class of operator licenses based on examination criteria that is virtually identical to lower class licensees in our Service is no longer legally sustainable under a whole plethora of US federal equal access laws.  

Even our traditional "HF" vs. "VHF and above" distinctions from years ago have now become blurred.

That's because even "lowly" Technicians in our Service in the USA have since been granted limited HF privileges. Even "lowly" Technicians in our Service are allowed to do such things as build and operate their transmitting equipment "from scratch", run a full KW and/or be the licensee of a repeater or club station.  About the ONLY thing Technicians still can't do in our Service is to administer examinations.  But arbitrarily withholding primarily ego-stroking, frequency-based operating privileges from such persons…operating privileges that are in no way based on any operational or regulatory need…is simply no longer legally sustainable in the United States of America. And it hasn't been legal since the early 1990s..

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A lifetime of REALITY has shown me that drastic changes do not happen over-night or even next month. It takes TIME and perseverance.  It isn't served well by phraseology of "blatantly illegal" any more than the old trite rationale of some "we've always done it that way."

If something is "blatantly illegal", continuing to assert that it isn't also serves no useful regulatory purpose.  This becomes particularly true when such "illegality" has been largely responsible for our Service's continued slide into sociological and technological irrelevance, and may ultimately prove to be a principal cause of our Service's eventual demise.

What's more, based on my own PROFESSIONAL experiences helping others to comply with such equal access laws, I see no room for a "transitional" period of licensing in our Service.  That is, either our regulations and the licensing system for our Service pass legal muster with the US Code, or they don't.  Period.  

Clearly, if there IS to be a multi-tiered licensing system in our Service going forward, that licensing system is going to have to also be completely overhauled so that more than a handful of potentially more hazardous and/or interference-prone operational privileges are specifically withheld from lower class licensees.  

Otherwise, it's simply a continued perpetuation of our current ego-based, largely "achievement oriented" licensing system.

73,

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on September 27, 2010, 11:39:50 PM
Len, I think you missed the entire point of my post. ??? ::)

This entire thread is beginning to resemble what a Socratic dialogue would be if two interlocutors agreed with each other all the time.  No philosophical resolution, no intellectual development, plenty of farce.  In this case, Socrates would rather take the hemlock than resolve the argument of two people rehashing two points in 10^100 ways.  The ancient Greeks had a very complex mathematical system, but even the most skilled abacist couldn't count to a google.

Shakespeare, if he were alive today, wouldn't have needed to consult Holinshed's Chronicles for a great new tragic comedy.  I bet, however, that the patrons of the Globe Theatre would have passed out after Act MMMMLXVIII. 

73, Jordan


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on September 28, 2010, 02:49:36 PM
It's a nice try, Len, but your "suggestion" would simply perpetuate baseless, ego-stroking license classes that serve absolutely no regulatory purpose.
Compromises are just that, a compromise between what IS and what MIGHT BE.

We aren't going to effect ANY change by "wholesale changes" of everything. There are too many of the "old guard" still out there to oppose it if and when any NPRM is released for Comment.

My SUGGESTION does have a regulatory purpose despite denying frequency-use exclusivity based on class. I don't see any "baseless nonsense" in that from a legal standpoint. Amateur Extra class can still claim an intellectual superiority based on a four-times-larger written test. The USA license application regulations no longer have any "operational" testing - as alleged by the telegraphy cognition test of old - and has absolutely nothing else in mode or modulation to test "operational" ability. The only thing left is intellectual knowledge.

I made NO "suggestions" on denying any other aspects of having an Amateur Extra class in terms of amateur radio activities regulated by the FCC. Extras can still have priority in vanity call assignments. Extras can still be required as VEs. In fact, I think that some form of intellectual superiority might be an advantage in proctoring license examinations for the future. I would think that intellectual superiority would be preferred for any NCVEC member, especially for the QPC.

Yes, having more than one license type (or class) can be said to be "ego-stroking" of one form or another. BUT WE ARE NOT GOING TO GET ANYTHING BY ELIMINATING ALL CLASSES. The class distinction will still be in USA amateur radio. That class distinction is embedded in the USA amateur radio society.
Class distinction has many forms. Once upon a time it was codified in law that radiotelegraphy was a legal class distinction. That is now gone from USA amateur radio in terms of regulations. All that remains of that is the individual, emotional mind-set of such class distinction; that cannot be removed by any law yet those who have it will allways oppose any elimination of it, taking up the time and energy of those of us seeking towards a better future of all.

The USA still has FIVE classes of amateur radio licensees in "active" status (allowed to transmit RF energy as per terms of regulations). Technician Plus class are all expired but Novice and Advanced classes have indefinite renewal capability. Report and Order 99-412 was a rather limited change in the law and a limited "restructuring." In itself it was a COMPROMISE between the old order and the new, merely setting the stage for eventual discontinuance of telegraphy testing. 

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So, once again, I now have to ask you:  What regulatory purpose is served by perpetuating all that baseless nonsense?
"Baseless nonsense?" I am not "perpetuating" anything except a gradual change of USA amateur radio regulations. I am realist enough to not expect any "my way or the highway!" demands from any side of an argument over regulations. A gradual TRANSITION is better. R&O 99-412 was less a "restructuring" order than a transitional one. Very little was actually lost in regulations (despite the protests from the rabid pro-coders) by 99-412 and 10 1/2 years later USA amateur radio still has FIVE license classes capable of legal operation.

One might call 99-412 "baseless nonensence" but it was still called "restructuring." It didn't change any class distinction in USA amateur radio a decade ago, just mortifying the egos of some rabid pro-coders. It hardly made any impact on FCC bookkeeping. It was a springboard for "baseless nonsense" of talking by those who could not see beyond their own infinitely-important ideas of How Things Should Be!

By contrast, December 2006 Report and Order 06-178 was a definitive ORDER: All code testing would CEASE (on a date to be announced) in USA amateur radio license testing. No "baseless nonsense" in that but 06-178 was affected by no less than 18 Petitions for Reconsideration on 99-412 that took up nearly 4 years of time and energy by a lot of folks, including the FCC staffers. All that pro-coder commentary in those Petitions was bound to have an effect on future considerations by the FCC.

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I have no problem making the Extra Class exam (or whatever you want to call an "advanced" license in our Service) as "hard" as is required in order to help insure amateurs exercising the specific added privileges that license grants to do so safely, courteously, and without causing harmful interference to other hams or other services.

But that "hardness" MUST be based on granting those applicants who successfully complete it additional operationally-based privileges that have been specifically withheld from lower class licensees!  This also means that just "asking more questions" or (as is now repeatedly done now) simply asking more questions about privileges that have already been granted to lower class licensees just to make the test "harder" or "more comprehensive" doesn't cut it either

Or, to put it another way, if what's on this "new" Extra Class exam doesn't' specifically relate to the added privileges it grants, and the only reason for having it in the mix is to stroke people's egos, then once again it becomes nothing more than regulated snobbery.
I sense you are talking against yourself. When I mention "Amateur Extra" class I am referring to the regulations of the United States of America. I'm not talking about Canada.

Main point: WHO says that USA amateur radio testing is "ONLY" for OPERATIONAL advantages? WHO?

Think about it. What the USA has RIGHT NOW is largely based on "regulated snobbery." USA amateur radio regulations are codified class distinctions. NOW. WE have had it ever since the "incentive plan" was introduced and that "incentive plan" was BASED on the psychological basis of class distinction. So, after at least four decades of outright, blatant class distinction, it is now "baseless nonsense" to even SUGGEST that the USA Amateur Extra gets no "OPERATIONAL" advantages?

That's picking nits before the nits are even ready for harvesting.
 
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And, as I've repeatedly said, perpetuating that nonsense that's now blatantly illegal.
Careful on all that sprinkling of "blatantly illegal" phraseology. I don't need to be admitted to any legal Bar Association to see, observe, note that there hasn't been any SPECIFIC LAW codified, applied, or otherwise brought to any court about ILLEGALITY of EGO-STROKING. If there were, then every western country government (including Canada's) would collapse from the weight of POLITICAL CAMPAIGNING!

WHERE in the law books is it noted that there has been any legal action taken against ego-stroking or even showing favoritsm to any particular notion of How Things Should Be in USA amateur radio?  Yes, there have been cases where licensed USA radio amateurs have brought up for legal action but for disobeyance of published regulations, NOT for "ego-stroking."

Are Memorandum Reports and Orders based on Comments and Replies to Comments somehow "illegal?" I don't think so. That system seems to me to be based on a democratically-principled government where citizens can communicate directly with THEIR government and state their views. Would I call that "baseless nonsense?" Absolutely NOT. 

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Sorry, Len, but once again, what "present-day Extras" want (or don't want) is quite irrelevant under these laws.
Under WHAT laws? CITES, please. 

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As I've noted before, many people in the South during the 1950s and 1960s "wanted" to indefinitely perpetuate separate bathrooms, hotels and water fountains for people of color.  But with the passage of the US Civil Rights Act in 1964, all of that blatant systemic discrimination was immediately rendered quite illegal under federal law, not only within the US Federal Service, but also within the rest of the USA as a whole.
As I've stated before, many times, by the obvious appearance of radio amateurs' ethnicity in pages of amateur radio publications for years and years, USA amateur radio licensees are basically MALE and WHITE (Caucasoid). As an early political activist FOR Civil Rights Laws, I don't understand this "connection" between USA Amateur Extra questions requiring OPERATIONAL PRIVILEGES to be related to American Civil Rights laws. None. Nada. Nyet. Zip. 

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And, if you will recall, there was no "transition period" for that law, either.
Seems to me there was quite a LONG "transition period" as indicated by national TV for years.

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But, once again, indefinitely perpetuating a whole class of operator licenses based on examination criteria that is virtually identical to lower class licensees in our Service is no longer legally sustainable under a whole plethora of US federal equal access laws.
Excuse me, but I NEVER stated what was ON this "suggested" examination criterion, not on any license class. I simply stated a number of questions which would increase four- to six-fold. The CONTENT of the questions and answers is up to the NCVEC Question Pool Committee. That's how we do it down here in the United States of America under OUR privatized radio operator testing laws. As far as I know those testing laws have never been challenged legally.

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Even our traditional "HF" vs. "VHF and above" distinctions from years ago have now become blurred.
Having begun in radio communications professionally in 1952 I think I *KNOW* the distinctions, Keith.

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That's because even "lowly" Technicians in our Service in the USA have since been granted limited HF privileges. Even "lowly" Technicians in our Service are allowed to do such things as build and operate their transmitting equipment "from scratch", run a full KW and/or be the licensee of a repeater or club station.
I am discussing the Amateur Extra class amateur radio license. What any other class(es) of license are permitted to do under USA amateur radio regulations is incidental.

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If something is "blatantly illegal", continuing to assert that it isn't also serves no useful regulatory purpose.  This becomes particularly true when such "illegality" has been largely responsible for our Service's continued slide into sociological and technological irrelevance, and may ultimately prove to be a principal cause of our Service's eventual demise.
"Sociological and technological irrelevance?" Sorry, but the last time there was ANY "sociological and technical" relevance was so far in the past that there are few in here who were alive back then.
 
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What's more, based on my own PROFESSIONAL experiences helping others to comply with such equal access laws, I see no room for a "transitional" period of licensing in our Service.  That is, either our regulations and the licensing system for our Service pass legal muster with the US Code, or they don't.  Period.
Excuse moi, but based on my own PROFESSIONAL experience WORKING with many radio services and the Department of Defense of the USA, I've been too busy trying to meet TECHNICAL REGULATIONS to pay attention to LEGAL matters. As part of my PROFESSIONAL work I've been required to note, observe, and (rarely) act on LEGAL matters and have yet to see much in the way of "ILLEGAL" regulations which went to court. 

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Clearly, if there IS to be a multi-tiered licensing system in our Service going forward, that licensing system is going to have to also be completely overhauled so that more than a handful of potentially more hazardous and/or interference-prone operational privileges are specifically withheld from lower class licensees.
Yes, copy that. Your way or the highway. Big ten-four on that opinion. <sigh> 

73, Len K6LHA


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on September 28, 2010, 02:52:38 PM
Len, I think you missed the entire point of my post.
I don't think so. I CAN recognize pretentiousness and pseudo-sophistication but try not to bring it up to those who try to used it too much. :D 

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This entire thread is beginning to resemble what a Socratic dialogue would be if two interlocutors agreed with each other all the time.  No philosophical resolution, no intellectual development, plenty of farce.
I've been using computer-modem communications steadily for a quarter century now (since early December 1984 on BBSs). I do not find that a general class of folks are very much into "Socratic dialogue," including sporadic observation of the old ARPANET as used between universities. Some of those pseudo-sophisticated intellectuals would occaisionally drop into emotional childish behavior. :D

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The ancient Greeks had a very complex mathematical system, but even the most skilled abacist couldn't count to a google.
Abacii had no way of showing an INFINITY. The rest of the world went about their scientific things using the ARABIC numerals. Even in Israel. :D  <shrug>

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Shakespeare, if he were alive today, wouldn't have needed to consult Holinshed's Chronicles for a great new tragic comedy.  I bet, however, that the patrons of the Globe Theatre would have passed out after Act MMMMLXVIII.
Good snappy sarcasm. But, it is counter-productive in a DEBATE, if we can call this forum a debate.

If Shakespeare were alive today, more likely he would be in an ICU idly watching broadcasting TV situation comedies...attended by lots of pretentious physicians trying to figure out WHY he was still alive. :D 

K6LHA out and clear


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N9KX on September 28, 2010, 05:30:25 PM

This entire thread is beginning to resemble what a Socratic dialogue would be if two interlocutors agreed with each other all the time.  No philosophical resolution, no intellectual development, plenty of farce.  In this case, Socrates would rather take the hemlock than resolve the argument of two people rehashing two points in 10^100 ways.

that makes a pretty good cliff note for a lot of the threads in these Licensing forums  :)


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on September 28, 2010, 05:48:42 PM
This entire thread is beginning to resemble what a Socratic dialogue would be if two interlocutors agreed with each other all the time. 

No it isn't.

No philosophical resolution, no intellectual development, plenty of farce. 

That's because we have the internet. Look at all the trouble and expense we had to go to in the old days:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQFKtI6gn9Y

---

What you're seeing is the classic shaggy-dog discussion, which is pursued for its own sake. Such discussions can be excellent examples of all the usual logical fallacies and methods, if you just have patience.

For example, there's:

Appeal to Authority ("as a PROFESSIONAL..."0

Assuming The Conclusion ("it is clearly obvious that..."

False Premise (you can prove anything if you start with one or more false premises and build on them)

Ad Hominem ("you can't believe him, he's an old-time ham who passed the code test")

The Big Lie (repeat something over and over and people start to believe it's true)

and many many more. Often there are multiple fallacies in the same post, even in the same sentence.

Often such a discussion is pursued simply for attention, or to see how many insults can be worked into the text.

Don't worry about it. Lots of good discussion here on eham, just go where the signal-to-noise is better. Couple of good threads over in the CW forum; I like the one where a ham with an 8 call wrote about his experience as a US Army Morse Code instructor in the 1960s.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KB1SF on September 29, 2010, 03:31:24 AM
Excuse moi, but based on my own PROFESSIONAL experience WORKING with many radio services and the Department of Defense of the USA, I've been too busy trying to meet TECHNICAL REGULATIONS to pay attention to LEGAL matters.

Then perhaps we (you) should stick to commenting on these issues based on our own areas of expertise.

Although not a lawyer myself, I spent YEARS working in a professional setting with US Government lawyers on similar issues.  As a result, I believe I have a pretty good handle on what is "legal" in these matters and what isn't, particularly as it relates to government-regulated processes and procedures designed to certify people.  Indeed, from a legal standpoint, government licensing is more of a "people" issue than a technical one.

What's more, over the years, I've also seen a number of regulations enacted (or left on the books when their underlying laws were changed) by various government agencies that were later shown to be systemically discriminatory and therefore, unlawful.  Clearly, our 1950s-era amateur radio regulations, particularly as they relate to licensing, now fall into the latter category.

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Yes, copy that. Your way or the highway. Big ten-four on that opinion. <sigh>

Ditto.

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on September 29, 2010, 04:22:37 PM
People can argue "discrimination" and "ego-stroking" and such forever.

But the plain and simple fact is that, when it comes to Part 97, almost all changes come about because some ham or ham group writes a proposal and sends it to FCC.

For example:

In 1998, the ARRL filed a restructuring proposal with FCC to reduce the number of license classes and the code testing requirements. Within a few months, the FCC released its restructuring proposal, which became the changes effective in April 2000.

In 2002 or so, ARRL filed a "refarming" proposal to change some of the Novice subbands and widen some of the HF 'phone subbands. In 2006, the FCC made changes that widened some of the 'phone subbands and moved/increased some of the Novice subbands.

In 2003 the ITU-R treaty changed so that Morse Code testing was no longer required. Over the next year or so there were about 18 proposals filed with FCC, and in 2007 the last remnant of Morse Code testing for a US amateur radio license was eliminated.

Look at *any* changes to Part 97 in the past 20+ years, and you'll see that the change happened because someone or some group sent a proposal to FCC.

Of course not all proposals resulted in rules changes; the various "regulation by bandwidth" proposals went nowhere. And when a proposal resulted in changes, the changes weren't always exactly what was proposed.

But the point remains that if we want change, we have to ask for it, in the form of proposals to FCC.

But a proposal isn't enough; it has to have widespread support in the amateur community. The complete failure of the "regulation by bandwidth" proposals is an example of what happens when a proposal meets strong opposition in the comments.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KB1SF on September 30, 2010, 12:21:04 PM
People can argue "discrimination" and "ego-stroking" and such forever.

But the plain and simple fact is that, when it comes to Part 97, almost all changes come about because some ham or ham group writes a proposal and sends it to FCC.

Jimmie that approach may have been how things were "traditionally" done in our Service.  But, as I have previously noted, the plethora of 1990s-era federal equal access laws (and the ever-more pressing need for federal agencies to comply with them) will soon render such "traditions" quite moot if it hasn't already.

Indeed, the FCC's decision to drop all forms of Morse testing back in 2007 did NOT come about "because some ham or ham group wrote a proposal and sent it to FCC".   To the contrary, the FCC initiated that action on their own and largely in response to EXTERNAL pressures for change. 

Clearly, in response to their own internal audits, the FCC can also no longer completely ignore the fact that there IS no fundamental operational difference between the privileges granted to an Extra Class licensee and an Advanced or General Class licensee in our Service.  

And once the FCC is officially forced into owning up to THAT inconvenient truth (and to the systemically discriminatory licensing system they administer that KEEPS all that that ego-stroking foolishness firmly intact) then the ENTIRE legal support for their "incentive licensing" nonsense also comes tumbling down around their ears.  

But it is also painfully apparent by their lack of action to date to do anything more than "work around the edges" of this potentially explosive regulatory issue that the FCC isn't about to publicly admit to ANY of this on their own.  

Nor are the about to entertain motions from individual hams to make any substantial changes in the system.  To do so would absolutely ENRAGE the "Morse-testing-and-incentive-licensing-forever" zealots still remaining in our ranks.  It would also invite all manner of official outrage from this crowd in the form of scores of Congressional inquires along with hundreds (if not thousands) of quixotic petitions from clueless hams for redress.

Clearly, the FCC's Wireless Bureau is simply not staffed for such an onslaught.

Therefore, BECAUSE our Service STILL harbors such a highly vocal contingent of these rabid fundamentalists whose over-inflated egos still crave such regulated systemic bigotry, I firmly believe the demand to finally enact such long overdue and sweeping regulatory reforms for our Service will most certainly have to come from government-directed sources OUTSIDE of amateur radio.  

Examples of such "outside" direction might be in the form of a class action ruling against the FCC, a GAO audit, and/or a Congressional investigation leading to federal legislation that forces the FCC to completely overhaul the rest of their 1950s-era, blatantly systemically discriminatory "incentive licensing" nonsense.

As I've also said, thankfully, it's only a matter of time before the bulk of our now rapidly aging fundamentalist holdouts from the 1940s, 50s and 60s are dead and buried.  Removal of that HUGE contingent of rabid obstructionists should then allow the now rapidly growing external forces for change to all come together to FINALLY produce the regulatory and licensing reforms in our Service that will be so desperately needed to attract (and keep) today's youth, and, by extension, to keep our Service alive and growing on into the future.  

Now, granted, those changes may not come today, tomorrow, next week, or even next year. Indeed, they may not come in my lifetime.  But, mark my words; these changes WILL eventually be enacted.  My only hope is that I'll still be around to see most of them.  

However, in the interim, and thanks to the decades of all-too-successful work by our fundamentalist authoritarian zealots whose fervent wish has been to keep our Service permanently stuck in the technological and sociological "dark ages", I'm no longer holding out much hope.

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N5MOA on September 30, 2010, 01:35:46 PM

Jimmie that approach may have been how things were "traditionally" done in our Service.  But, as I have previously noted, the plethora of 1990s-era federal equal access laws (and the ever-more pressing need for federal agencies to comply with them) will soon render such "traditions" quite moot if it hasn't already.

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF

Yet you have you have not linked a single one of this "plethora" of laws. Coming from one with such "professional" experience as you, I wouldn't think that would be too hard to do. No facts to back up your opinion?


Nor are the about to entertain motions from individual hams to make any substantial changes in the system.  To do so would absolutely ENRAGE the "Morse-testing-and-incentive-licensing-forever" zealots still remaining in our ranks.  It would also invite all manner of official outrage from this crowd in the form of scores of Congressional inquires along with hundreds (if not thousands) of quixotic petitions from clueless hams for redress.


Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Those who don't agree with your OPINION are "clueless hams"?


Therefore, BECAUSE our Service STILL harbors such a highly vocal contingent of these rabid fundamentalists whose over-inflated egos still crave such regulated systemic bigotry, I firmly believe the demand to finally enact such long overdue and sweeping regulatory reforms for our Service will most certainly have to come from government-directed sources OUTSIDE of amateur radio. 

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF

Not only "clueless hams" but also "highly vocal, rabid fundamentalists with over-inflated egos" who are also apparently bigots.


As I've also said, thankfully, it's only a matter of time before the bulk of our now rapidly aging fundamentalist holdouts from the 1940s, 50s and 60s are dead and buried.  Removal of that HUGE contingent of rabid obstructionists should then allow the now rapidly growing external forces for change to all come together to FINALLY produce the regulatory and licensing reforms in our Service that will be so desperately needed to attract (and keep) today's youth, and, by extension, to keep our Service alive and growing on into the future. 

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF

Also "rabid obstructionists" who "thankfully" will be "dead and buried". Don't forget to include the ones from the 70s, 80s 90s and 00.
 
That way you can insult everyone who doesn't agree with your OPINION.

You know Keith, I was enjoying the back and forth up til now. You have obviously gone off the deep end. When failed logic doesn't work, you resort to (continued) insults toward any and every one who doesn't jump on your bandwagon.

With that, I'll leave you to babbling in the corner by yourself. What tiny, microscopic bit of credibility you had is gone.



But a proposal isn't enough; it has to have widespread support in the amateur community. The complete failure of the "regulation by bandwidth" proposals is an example of what happens when a proposal meets strong opposition in the comments.

73 de Jim, N2EY

Hopefully, regulation by bandwidth will never come to pass.

What we have works, and works just fine.

73, Tom
N5MOA


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on September 30, 2010, 02:32:50 PM

Hopefully, regulation by bandwidth will never come to pass.

Why?

That's a serious question. While there were flaws in the proposals of the past, is there no form of "RBB" that would be a good thing?


What we have works, and works just fine.

But perhaps it could be improved.

One problem I see with our current system in the USA is that Part 97 does not allow data modes in the HF 'phone subbands. (160 is MF, btw). No RTTY, no PSK31, etc. This isn't just a gentleman's agreement thing, it's the law.

This means that widening the 'phone subbands reduces the spectrum available for data modes unless they can claim to be "image" modes.

I know there's a long history behind all this, but I think it's time for a change. Here's why:

Suppose there were an HF 'phone emergency net, and emergency traffic in the form of a data file needed to be transferred. Under current Part 97 rules, the stations would have to QSY outside the 'phone subbands to do it legally, rather than just sending it on the net frequency. Why? Wouldn't it make more sense not to have to QSY?

As I recall it, one of the biggest objections to RBB in the past was the provision for "robot" stations to operate anywhere. Clearly that's a bad idea, and shouldn't be allowed.

But maybe - just maybe - there's a version of RBB that could be a good thing.

I'd like to read your thoughts on it - particularly the objections.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KB1SF on September 30, 2010, 03:57:58 PM
Hopefully, regulation by bandwidth will never come to pass.
Hoping for it to "never come to pass" isn't going to make the idea go away, Tom.  Indeed, this is PRECISELY where the regulations for our Service are now headed in the USA.  I suggest you and your like-thinking buddies might now want to start getting used to that idea.

Quote
What we have works, and works just fine.

...In your opinion.  I just happen to vehemently disagree.  

So, what say we make a date to meet here in ten years' time and see who got it right?

Keith
KB1SF / VA3KSF


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N5MOA on September 30, 2010, 04:11:00 PM

Hopefully, regulation by bandwidth will never come to pass.

Why?

That's a serious question. While there were flaws in the proposals of the past, is there no form of "RBB" that would be a good thing?


73 de Jim, N2EY

Not that I've heard. What did you have in mind?





What we have works, and works just fine.

But perhaps it could be improved.

One problem I see with our current system in the USA is that Part 97 does not allow data modes in the HF 'phone subbands. (160 is MF, btw). No RTTY, no PSK31, etc. This isn't just a gentleman's agreement thing, it's the law.


73 de Jim, N2EY

I don't see a problem with that.  Outside of a contest, there is plenty of room for phone, plenty of room for cw and plenty of room for data. The phone sub-bands don't need widening.

 Data and phone shouldn't mix, imo. We certainly don't need phone on 30m. Again, my opinion.




I know there's a long history behind all this, but I think it's time for a change. Here's why:

Suppose there were an HF 'phone emergency net, and emergency traffic in the form of a data file needed to be transferred. Under current Part 97 rules, the stations would have to QSY outside the 'phone subbands to do it legally, rather than just sending it on the net frequency. Why? Wouldn't it make more sense not to have to QSY?

73 de Jim, N2EY

So we should regulate by "what if"?

If the "emergency traffic" in data file form is originating from the disaster area, the op has the capability to use the data sub-bands. Hold the net in the data sub-band, there is usually less congestion. Data usually takes less power to get through, and is a better weak signal mode than phone. If he can't transmit it, he can't receive it, so "what if", in this case, is a moot point.

If this "emergency traffic" in data form is originating outside the disaster area going to the disaster area, see above.

If this "emergency traffic" in data form is going to another location outside the disaster area, why use the ham bands at all for it? The internet is much faster and more prevalent in it's use than amateur radio.



But maybe - just maybe - there's a version of RBB that could be a good thing.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Maybe. As I said, I haven't seen one yet.

73, Tom
N5MOA


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: W0DV on September 30, 2010, 09:15:10 PM
I'll never relate to the whiners and complainers that I see here or on QRZ.com.

I was first licensed in 94. Looked like a fun thing to do so I signed up. I was exposed to it by my father-in-law. I figured if that bozo could pass a ham test, I sure as heck could. After all, I made it through electronics school and he has problems with basic math. My father-in-law is a Korean war vet. His job was communications. He was taught Morse code and used it every day while there. Needless to say, he is very proficient with the code.
When the no-code era came around, he was very vocal about it and quit ham radio in protest, convinced that CB'rs would take over, etc. Today he still rants about how easy the tests are. I recently informed him that the tests have always been easy, 30 years ago and today. He managed to pass the General Exam 25 years ago. He has NO knowledge of electronics theory, has a hard time using a calculator.
I'm licensed, and I enjoy radio. It was my interest in radio that led me to study electronics theory back in the early 80's.
I couldn't care less what my license is called or how easy the test was. I took real exams on electronics theory while in college.
I took the 5 wpm exam a few years ago. When I heard the code testing was going to cease, I decided I wanted a "taste" of it so I took the exam. I continued studying the code for a few weeks and built my speed up to maybe 12 to 15 wpm, somewhere in there. Today, I use the mode seldom and do not have much interest in it any more.

Why do so many hams complain about current license structure?  I don't hear it that often on the air, mostly in Internet forums. Mental illness perhaps is the cause? Geezus, if the current structure bothers you that much, then get the hell out of the hobby and let others enjoy it. Also, stop complaining about how newer hams take an easier test. The tests have always been easy, 30 years ago and today.


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on October 01, 2010, 04:34:57 AM

One problem I see with our current system in the USA is that Part 97 does not allow data modes in the HF 'phone subbands. (160 is MF, btw). No RTTY, no PSK31, etc. This isn't just a gentleman's agreement thing, it's the law.

I don't see a problem with that.  Outside of a contest, there is plenty of room for phone, plenty of room for cw and plenty of room for data. The phone sub-bands don't need widening.

 Data and phone shouldn't mix, imo. We certainly don't need phone on 30m. Again, my opinion.


I agree that we don't need 'phone on 30 meters; the band is only 50 kHz wide, shared with other services, and is better left for narrow modes.

But why not mix data and phone? Data and CW mix, so why does 'phone need protection? 'Phone and image modes (SSTV) mix, so why not data modes too?

I also agree that the 'phone subbands don't need widening. But under current Part 97 rules, when the 'phone subbands are widened (as they were in 2006), the subbands where data is allowed shrink. That's not good, IMHO.
 


I know there's a long history behind all this, but I think it's time for a change. Here's why:

Suppose there were an HF 'phone emergency net, and emergency traffic in the form of a data file needed to be transferred. Under current Part 97 rules, the stations would have to QSY outside the 'phone subbands to do it legally, rather than just sending it on the net frequency. Why? Wouldn't it make more sense not to have to QSY?


So we should regulate by "what if"?

Yes! We should consider all reasonable scenarios and regulate accordingly.

Not too many years ago, the idea of a station in an emergency having data capability was remote. Today it's common. But our rules prevent best utilization.

If the "emergency traffic" in data file form is originating from the disaster area, the op has the capability to use the data sub-bands. Hold the net in the data sub-band, there is usually less congestion. Data usually takes less power to get through, and is a better weak signal mode than phone. If he can't transmit it, he can't receive it, so "what if", in this case, is a moot point.

If this "emergency traffic" in data form is originating outside the disaster area going to the disaster area, see above.

Problem is, that means dividing resources, because the data/CW subband may be hundreds of kHz away. Why not allow sending the data right on the 'phone frequency? What is it about 'phone that requires protection from data modes, but CW requires no such protection?


If this "emergency traffic" in data form is going to another location outside the disaster area, why use the ham bands at all for it? The internet is much faster and more prevalent in it's use than amateur radio.

Except for training purposes, I agree. The point of amateur emergency communications is bridging gaps.


But maybe - just maybe - there's a version of RBB that could be a good thing.


Maybe. As I said, I haven't seen one yet.


How about this for a first step:

Have a part of each HF band where "anything goes". All license classes have privileges in those subbands, and all modes under a certain bandwidth are allowed there. Maybe only do it on bands with lots of space, like 80/75, 15 and 10.

Then see how it goes. Don't change the whole system all at once; just set aside some subbands and see how it works.

For example, take 3600-3650 kHz and make it open to all licensees and all authorized modes. Including robots. Give it several years and see what happens.

Maybe even put a time limit into the rules - say, 10 years. After 9 years there would be an automatic proposal to renew it. Depending on comments received, the change could be renewed, expanded, or allowed to expire.

That way, if RBB doesn't work, we don't have the near-impossible task of dismantling it.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on October 11, 2010, 11:24:31 AM
Im still trying to figure out why we still have an extra class license.
So am I...and Amaeur Extra is the only class license I've ever had.   ;D

Quote
If they are going to do away with the silly 5000 level license system, then lets finish the job. I dont see the point of taking a harder exam just to get a bit more space to operate on. All ham radio needs is a beginners license and a full license. I always have thought that having so many levels was silly. All it did was cause class warfare and confusion on the bands.
Agreed...but the multiple-class license system was inspired/lobbied-for
back in ancient times so that amateurs could pretend to be professionals. :D

I'm not quite kidding...I was a professional in radio starting in 1952.

Quote
When a beginner is ready to get the full license, he should be made to DEMONSTRATE that he understands the rules, equipment operation, basic antenna theory and safety. The testing that they are doing now is a total joke. If we are going to have a team of volunteer examiners, they should be examining skills, not useless tests...
The tests aren't useless but rather PRACTICAL considering the variety of different technological advances that have happened in just the last half-century.  AMATEUR radio isn't a tradecraft, or union, or anything else that requires "professional" capabilities.  Some (perhaps too many) want to consider themselves pros but they really aren't.

It is impossible to have any testing in a one-day test session to examine the various "skills" that are supposed to b part of amateur radio as so many demand should be done.  It couldn't be done in an FCC Field Office, let alone in front of a team of VEs.

But, I'm responding to the very first post in this topic and in the last month or so there have been a lot of Extra who seem to think they are gurus in everything and have ventured FAR from the topic.  They have theirs and aren't about to let go of the Rank, Status, Privilege they think they have "earned" through all their "hard work."   ;D

73, Len K6LHA


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: WB6DGN on October 13, 2010, 10:47:52 PM
"Why Have An Extra Class?"

And, while you're at it, why have Colonels and Generals in the Army?  Let's make everyone a private and stop the discrimination there too.

As to the practical exam; has anyone taken an FAA flight exam lately?  A WRITTEN exam AND a FLIGHT exam for every upgrade.  Maybe should tell the FAA that practical exams are impractical???  See how far that gets ya!  Yes, it costs a few bucks but anything worth having is worth paying for, right?  Does that define the value of a current ham license???  Not only CAN be done, but, IS being done in the REAL world.  Stop whining folks, your present license is worth about as much as a CB license used to be worth.  Stop whining, step up to the plate and EARN your privileges.  Not a "cake walk" but feels mighty good when it's accomplished.
Tom


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: WB6DGN on October 13, 2010, 11:10:34 PM
"It is impossible to have any testing in a one-day test session to examine the various "skills" that are supposed to b part of amateur radio as so many demand should be done."

The FAA will be very interested in your declaration on this topic.  Perhaps, if you are willing to come out of your retirement, they would hire you as a consultant?
Tom


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on October 14, 2010, 03:26:01 AM
"Why Have An Extra Class?"

And, while you're at it, why have Colonels and Generals in the Army?  Let's make everyone a private and stop the discrimination there too.

Apples and oranges there, Tom. There are Colonels and Generals in the Army because the Army needs a chain of command.

The reason for multiple classes of Amateur Radio is different. Simple, but different. Here it is:

1) There's a certain amount of knowledge/skill that the FCC considers necessary for a full-privileges license.

2) Testing is required to see if prospective licensees know the stuff required by 1)

3) Breaking up the testing into pieces/levels makes it easier for people who have no training in radio to become hams. At the same time, someone who wants to go for General or Extra as a first license is able to do so.

Of course folks disagree with the knowledge/skills required, how the privileges are divided up, how many licenses classes, how the tests are conducted, etc. But the basic concepts are unchanged.


As to the practical exam; has anyone taken an FAA flight exam lately?  A WRITTEN exam AND a FLIGHT exam for every upgrade.

Sure - but again that's apples and oranges.

FAA is all about safety, because with aviation there are many ways to mess up and cause a plane crash. Something as simple as miscalculating how much fuel you need for a given trip, or not being prepared for the conditions after you take off can and have been fatal - and not just to the pilot/licensee. (Look at how JFK Jr.'s life ended - he miscalculated and outflew his knowledge/skill set. )

Amateur radio does have safety considerations, but they're not on the same level as those of aviation.

Aviation is particularly different from most other activities because, when flying, you can't just stop and turn everything off until you figure out what your next move is.

  Yes, it costs a few bucks but anything worth having is worth paying for, right? 

How much does a pilot's license cost, anyway, when you figure in all the mandatory training and testing?

But dollar cost isn't the real issue.

What bothered some folks in the past, and still bothers some today about various testing requirements for an amateur license is that you *can't* just buy a license.

That was the real reason for the opposition some folks had to the Morse code tests.

The difference with Morse Code is that it requires skills most people don't have before they get a ham license. Yes, there are some ex-military or commercial ops who already know it when they get their ham licenses, but they're not very many today.

You can't get those skills by reading a book, watching a video or a little at a time., here and there. A person had to set down and do a little study to learn enough of it to pass the tests, even the old 5 wpm receive-only test. 

Thus the code test became a sort of Great Equalizer. The elementary school child and the Ph.D.EE would often start at the same level. And sometimes they would not end at the same level.

That's what bothered some folks so much.

The same sort of thing is still going on. Have *any* testing that isn't trivial and you'll find somebody who rails against it and wants it eliminated.

73 de Jim, N2EY






Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: W5ESE on October 14, 2010, 10:32:16 AM

Thus the code test became a sort of Great Equalizer. The elementary school child and the Ph.D.EE would often start at the same level. And sometimes they would not end at the same level.

That's what bothered some folks so much.


Well said, Jim.

Some people's egos can stand it when they may be considered a beginner at something.
73
Scott W5ESE


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on October 14, 2010, 08:07:27 PM
What bothered some folks in the past, and still bothers some today about various testing requirements for an amateur license is that you *can't* just buy a license.
The Topic in this Forum is WHY HAVE AN EXTRA CLASS?  It wasn't about "buying" any license...other than the examination fee.  :D

Quote
That was the real reason for the opposition some folks had to the Morse code tests.
"The Morse code tests' elimination or retention" was already argued over 5 YEARS AGO.  Sorry for your side but ALL morse code testing was ELIMINATED 3 1/2 years ago.  Blabbering and blubbering about that decision by the FCC isn't doing anyone any good NOW.  For that matter that morse code TEST rate was capped at 5 WPM a DECADE AGO, for all classes that required a code test then.  See Memorandum Report and Order 99-412 released in December 1999. 

Quote
The difference with Morse Code is that it requires skills most people don't have before they get a ham license. Yes, there are some ex-military or commercial ops who already know it when they get their ham licenses, but they're not very many today.
The FCC doesn't issue "ham licenses."  Nowhere in Part 97, Title 47 C.F.R. is there any definition of a "ham" license.  You might try the Food and Drug Administration for a proper ham licnese.

Quote
You can't get those skills by reading a book, watching a video or a little at a time., here and there. A person had to set down and do a little study to learn enough of it to pass the tests, even the old 5 wpm receive-only test.
The OLD morse code tests administered before 23 February 2007 were ALL "receive-only" and had been such for years.  Morse code cognition is a psycho-motor skill and requires - for most people - considerable practice to achieve any audio-input understanding.

Quote
Thus the code test became a sort of Great Equalizer. The elementary school child and the Ph.D.EE would often start at the same level. And sometimes they would not end at the same level.
This remark is light-years away from the TOPIC originally posed, WHY HAVE AN EXTRA CLASS?
Firstly, if you want some kind of "great equalizer," that exists in the written tests.  Today.  The written tests are "almost" down to the level of elementary school students...at least for those few who are able to read and understand written English.

Secondly, WHY do YOU need this "great equalizer?"  For some kind of psychological transferrence in order to make you think that you are some kind of "equal" of a PhD?  That's rather ostentatious arrogance even for a male teen-ager.  :D

WHY is there such a "need" for a "great equalizer?"  The FCC has gone on record (more than once, by the way) in saying that such OOK CW skills are not considered valid indicators for an applicant's ability to hold an amateur radio license grant.  The FCC is the only agency in the USA that grants 
amateur radio licenses under Title 47 Code of Federal Regulations.  It isn't the ARRL.

Quote
That's what bothered some folks so much.
I doubt that...considering you've had an Amateur Extra license for so long and have gone on record as saying that eliminating the code test was "the worst thing that could happen" to USA amateur radio. 

You are seemingly projecting a negative image of those who do not love, honor, and obey OOK CW.

I have an Amateur Extra class license.  In fact, I've never had any other class in any country.  I've also been IN HF communications since before you were born and have never been required to know morse code in the last 57 1/2 years.  That is over an EM spectrum that ranges from VLF on up to microwaves (as far as about 25 GHz).  The entire world of radio communications has advanced and progressed far, far beyond the old pre-WWII era when "code was king."  To retain a TEST for morse code skill into this new millennium was an ARTIFACT of bygone days, not some grandeloquent "great equalizer" of anything but primitive survivalist skills.

You have to understand that "some folks" (other than those you imagine exist) just couldn't understand the need to maintain a Living Museum of Ancient Radio Skills by federal fiat.  That includes the International Amateur Radio Union as well as hundreds of thousands of radio hobbyists around the world.  Those hobbyists in the USA made their opinions known to the FCC and the FCC listened. 

Quote
The same sort of thing is still going on. Have *any* testing that isn't trivial and you'll find somebody who rails against it and wants it eliminated.
The Topic in this Forum is WHY HAVE AN EXTRA CLASS?  It isn't about "testing" but rather why have so many classes of license such as the Amateur Extra class?  If you have anything on that subject, that would be fine, but you continue to misdirect and obfuscate into your own personal RANTS against those who do not worship you for your long-time skill and expertise in an ancient mode of communications.

I would remind you that the FCC itself wrote that, in the last 5 years, it had granted only 99 total Commercial Radiotelegraph Licenses.  That comes out to less than 20 per year on an average.  Over 7 years ago the World Radio Conference of 2003 decided, by adminstration vote, that special Radio Regulation S25 was rewritten to remove any imperative that adminstrations HAD to test for radio-telegraphy skills for any amateur radio license grant having below-30-MHz transmission priveleges.

I'm sorry but your "great equalizer" idea is just part of your own imagination in your continuing effort to attempt demeaning those of us who see no need of becoming part of any Living Museum of Ancient Radio Skills.

Len, K6LHA (always an Amateur Extra in USA amateur radio)


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on October 15, 2010, 02:42:50 AM
"you...have gone on record as saying that eliminating the code test was "the worst thing that could happen" to USA amateur radio."

That is simply untrue.

For the record:

I have never said or written what is claimed above. Nor do I believe it.

Any such claim is a misquote.  

If I really wrote such a thing in an online forum or in comments to FCC, a direct link to the exact quote could be provided.  But no such link will be provided, because no such quote exists, or ever existed.

73 de Jim, N2EY

Extra since 1970


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N9KX on October 15, 2010, 08:39:16 PM

"you...have gone on record as saying that eliminating the code test was "the worst thing that could happen" to USA amateur radio."

That is simply untrue.

For the record:

I have never said or written what is claimed above. Nor do I believe it.

Any such claim is a misquote.  

If I really wrote such a thing in an online forum or in comments to FCC, a direct link to the exact quote could be provided.  But no such link will be provided, because no such quote exists, or ever existed.

73 de Jim, N2EY

LHA = Lots of Hyperbole and Accusation

dit dit


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on October 16, 2010, 11:37:10 AM

LHA = Lots of Hyperbole and Accusation

The topic is WHY HAVE AN EXTRA CLASS?

It would be better for all to comment ON TOPIC rather than lapse into the usual personal enmity mode or the perceived personal "outrage" of never being anything less than "perfect."

On Topic:  I am for retention of the USA amateur radio Amateur Extra class but with NO extra frequency allocations.  I have said so in this Forum under this Topic.  Keith, KB1SF, and I disagree with that but I think it is an amicable disagreement.

With others there have been many forays into misdirection and obfuscation on THE TOPIC.  That is counterproductive, rather more like a dissing blog than any sort of serious discussion on federal regulations.

73, Len K6LHA


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: WA4ZVG on October 16, 2010, 03:00:12 PM
The licensing system they have now is a JOKE. I will call a NO-CODER exactly what they are to their face. A CB'er with $15 and 15 minutes to memorize a few questions and answers. An Extra Class means NOTHING anymore. At least if you have an ADVANCED Class, one can be reasonably sure that you at least passed 13 wpm of code and most likely did it in front of the FCC and took a real test that you were not GIVEN the exact questions and ANSWERS to before hand, by such CRIMMINAL organizations such as the ARRL. The ARRL sold out ham radio to the big 3, YASEU KENWOOD AND ICOM. Here is the way it went. The Manufacturers says hey ARRL. "The FCC pretty well goes along with what you say. We need to sell some radio's and you YANKEE BOYS up there in Newington need the advertising money to keep all 100 of you employed. Now here is what you do. You petition the FCC to do away with the code requirement and at the same time get them to let you publish the EXACT QUESTIONS and ANSWERS that will be on a test to get a license. We will sell radio's and make plenty of money and we will buy all the advertising in your publications that you can handle and that will keep your sorry selves employed. Now we realize this will usher in a new era in ham radio, and create a bunch of DIGITAL BOY appliance operators, that do good to turn a radio on. They will have no technical knowledge, and the gateway license, the technician class will be prized by WEATHER WACKO'S throughout the country. Just get the FCC to go along with it. At the same time tell these CB'ers that they can now get on HF if they have $15 and 15 minutes to memorize a few simple questions and answers. Now we want you to create an army of SO CALLED VOLUNTEER EXAMINEERS to help us promote this conspiracy. Be sure they show up at ham fest and offer the test at least 3 times a day on Saturday and 3 times a day on Sunday. Have someone go down to channel 19 and tell all the CB'ers to bring $90 minimum to the ham fest, $15 per test session, if they don't pass it the first time, they can come back later in the day and take it again, all they got to do is be sure they memorize these questions and answers. We do publish them you know. Tell them that the test will be offered at 8 am 11 am and 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday. That $90 is in case they fail it all 6 times, but hey we want you to make the test so easy they can pass it the first time and only spend the $15.  These new hams can REQUEST A VANITY CALL and make it look like they have been a ham for a long time.  Forget the fact all you have to do is listen to them for 5 minutes with their terms such as, Whats that first personal, does it have any swing to it, it is DEAD KEYED, and my personal favorite, 10-4 good buddy."

Yes the ARRL SOLD us out. These new hams, are NOTHING but CB'ers with $15 and 15 minutes to memorize a few questions and answers.

Not only does an EXTRA CLASS mean nothing anymore, all of them mean nothing unless they actually passed a code test and a written test that they weren't given the EXACT Questions and ANSWERS to beforehand.

WA4ZVG


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on October 16, 2010, 03:43:18 PM
At least if you have an ADVANCED Class, one can be reasonably sure that you at least passed 13 wpm of code and most likely did it in front of the FCC and took a real test that you were not GIVEN the exact questions and ANSWERS to before hand, by such CRIMMINAL organizations such as the ARRL.

Not really. Simply having an Advanced doesn't prove any of that.

First off, in 1990 the FCC created medical waivers for the 13 and 20 wpm code tests. This was done because a king who was a ham asked the president at the time for a favor. The president passed the request to the FCC, who did the rest.

Second, the VEC/QPC system with published Q&A was created by FCC in the early 1980s - more than 25 years ago. It was done to save money due to budget constraints imposed by the Reagan administration. Making the Q&A public knowledge also put Dick Bash and his books out of business.

Both actions were *opposed* by ARRL - to no avail, because the FCC was convinced they had to make the changes.
 
So if someone has an Advanced license today, all it proves is that:

- the person has been a ham for over 10 years
- the person passed at least a 5 wpm Morse Code receiving test
- the person passed the required written tests - which may have been FCC administered, or VEC/QPC administered.

And nothing more.

Now of course someone with an Advanced can mention that they earned their license back before VEC testing, or that they didn't get a code waiver, etc. But that's true of any class of license.

73 de Jim, N2EY (Extra since 1970)


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KH6AQ on October 17, 2010, 04:24:26 AM
How about the recently licensed ham who is, let's say, an electrical engineer and who has learned code and regularly works CW at 30 WPM. He knows more technically than most old-time hams and he's fast enough to have passed any old-time sending and receiving test. Is he a CBer?


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N9KX on October 17, 2010, 04:37:27 AM


LHA = Lots of Hyperbole and Accusation

The topic is WHY HAVE AN EXTRA CLASS?

It would be better for all to comment ON TOPIC rather than lapse into the usual personal enmity mode or the perceived personal "outrage" of never being anything less than "perfect."

On Topic:  I am for retention of the USA amateur radio Amateur Extra class but with NO extra frequency allocations.  I have said so in this Forum under this Topic.  Keith, KB1SF, and I disagree with that but I think it is an amicable disagreement.

With others there have been many forays into misdirection and obfuscation on THE TOPIC.  That is counterproductive, rather more like a dissing blog than any sort of serious discussion on federal regulations.


it is good to see that you now realize your mis-characterization of N2EY's position was a counterproductive move away from the 'THE TOPIC' and that your veering off topic into hyperbole and accusation is now a thing of the past.

Since you favor a retention of the Extra class licence with zero extra frequency allocations, what point would having the the Extra class license serve?  Why not just call it General class? 

Imo, if there is going to be an Extra class, CW proficiency should be tested and required. It is good for amateurs to know there hobby's past, as well as past practices in radio -- since that is what the present technology grew out of. Actually their should be CW *and* morse code literacy questions on the written exams for all license classes.

73 de K9AIM




Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on October 17, 2010, 04:54:00 AM
It is good for amateurs to know there hobby's past, as well as past practices in radio -- since that is what the present technology grew out of.

Of course.

But Morse Code isn't just part of ham radio's past. It's a big part of the present and future of Amateur Radio as well. Listen to the low ends of the HF bands, read the various contest results, look at the sales of CW rigs, keys, keyers, etc., and it's clear that Morse Code isn't just "the past".

Of course commercial and military use of Morse Code has dwindled to almost nothing, but that's irrelevant because Amateur Radio is neither of those things.

Actually their should be CW *and* morse code literacy questions on the written exams for all license classes.

The challenge is to convince FCC of that idea.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N9KX on October 17, 2010, 11:40:25 AM
Morse Code isn't just part of ham radio's past. It's a big part of the present and future of Amateur Radio as well. Listen to the low ends of the HF bands, read the various contest results, look at the sales of CW rigs, keys, keyers, etc., and it's clear that Morse Code isn't just "the past".

Roger that, I have bought about 10 keys and keyers this past year trying to find the one straight key and keyer best suited for me (and within my budget).  The great thing is if I get one I decide is not my cup of tea, it is very easy to turn around and sell it.  In addition to the free classified sections here and at qrz.com, the eBay Ham Radio > Keys section is a *very* active place.   And, on the subject of morse code on the ham bands these days, last night, it took me quite a while to work thru the big pile-up on 40 meter CW to exchange reports with PJ7E.  The old Omni C that is my one and only xcvr is pure joy to operate!

But despite the fact that morse code has a strong place in ham radio's present & future, its historic significance is nothing to sneeze at.  Morse Code played a key role in the evolution of radio in general (pun intended).  And, while it's not exactly Morse code, these PC's we all use happen to be 'on/off' code lovers themselves ;-)   

73 de K9AIM SKCC #6586


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on October 17, 2010, 01:59:33 PM
Since you favor a retention of the Extra class licence with zero extra frequency allocations, what point would having the the Extra class license serve?  Why not just call it General class?
A valid question.  What I proposed - but do not exactly "favor" - is a COMPROMISE between existing class licensing and what might be in the future.  Compromises are not ideal solutions, far from it, but they are a middle ground between diametrically-opposed opinions.

The old Amateur Extra class had two major conditions for applicants: (1). Passing a 20 WPM International Morse Code test; (2). Passing a larger written test, then of 50 questions.  Both test elements had to be passed to be considered for an Amateur Extra class amateur license grant.

Memorandum Report and Order 99-412, released in December 1999, put a maximum code test rate of 5 WPM (equivalent) as part of the latest "restructuring" of USA amateur radio.  That went into effect in
mid-2000 as stated in the Federal Register.  Memorandum Report and Order 06-178, released in December 2006, eliminated all Interntational Morse Code testing for any USA amateur radio license applicant. That went into effect on 23 February 2007 as stated in the Federal Register.  Those two R&Os removed half of the "extra" part of USA Amateur Extra class applications.  There was nothing to take its place; the written test was not expanded in size to compensate for that loss in testing.

My compromise would be to expand the written test to a minimum of double the size of present-day questions, from 50 to at least 100 (personal preferrence to 200), keeping the present pass percentage.  In further detail, I would have that apply to all new Amateur Extra applicants.  I would prefer to have that also apply to existing Amateur Extras up for renewal, but that is an argument that is best suited for an NPRM on the subject.  An NPRM would be the logical course for changing the number of test element questions for Amateur Extra.  In my viewpoint, the logical course is also as a substitute for the eliminated code test (of 3 1/2 years ago) and the reduced code test rate (of 10 1/2 years ago).

Giving up the exclusive "entitlement" frequency sub-sub-bands on HF is a different argument.  It is based on a more common democratic-principled allocation of available frequencies enjoyed by many other countries.  As of today, 17 October 2010, USA Amateur Extras make up 17.6 percent of all "active" (within their 10-year license term) and 17.2 percent of all Amateur Extra class grants (within a 12-year term).  Any claim of "entitlement" on the basis of a high-rate code test last taken a decade ago for exclusive frequency use today is specious.

In the USA an amateur radio license is NOT an exclusively-operator condition.  By law, it encompasses BOTH operational and technical proficiency, the latter sufficient to meet the out-of-band RF emissions as proscribed by law.  By increasing the size of the Amateur Extra written test element, there would be some compensation for the eliminated morse code test element.  In effect, it would restore some of the "extra" cognizance of the Amateur Extra class license grantee.  If nothing else, it would provide some federal basis for their individual egos, a fuel for their Id, so that they can claim "greatness" in a hobby activity.

Compromises are never "ideal solutions."  There is no such thing as an "ideal solution."  But ompromises MUST be done or NOTHING gets done.  The entire technological world is CHANGING.  We must learn to change with it or stagnate.
 
Quote
Imo, if there is going to be an Extra class, CW proficiency should be tested and required. It is good for amateurs to know there hobby's past, as well as past practices in radio -- since that is what the present technology grew out of. Actually their should be CW *and* morse code literacy questions on
the written exams for all license classes.
Your personal opinion is noted, but it is only that.  NPRM 98-143 ("restructuring") was open for a twice-extended period of slightly more than a year and garnered many replies and replies-to-comments.  It resulted in MR&O 99-412 that put the maximum code test rate at 5 WPM.  NPRM 05-235 ("code test elimination") had a ten-month period of replies and replies-to-comments.  It resulted in MR&O 06-178 which did eliminate ALL code testing for any USA amateur radio license.  In addition, the IARU did the lobbying of their respective administrations to rewrite ITU-R special radio regulation S25 such to make it optional for each adminstration to enforce a code test or eliminated as it saw fit...even though opposed by the ARRL up to WRC-03 in mid-2003.  The ARRL was forced to accept the decision of the ITU-R, mainly because the ARRL has NO voting power in any World Radio Conference.

In essence, you have made no valid claim for your personal opinion insofar as changing any USA federal law.  All you can claim is wanting to keep the status quo.  The arguments on code testing have been made and that is over.  It is illogical to assume that a minority group of licensees (17%)
should have exclusive entitlement just because they once met federal regulations of a long time ago under political considerations of that long-ago time.  While that set of statements will not mollify your personal ego, you must consider that law is not set up to satisfy individuals, but rather ALL citizens, be they licensed or unlicensed in any particular radio activity.

As to getting amateurs of today informed about "how their hobby began," there are enough texts available to teach that intellectually.  We cannot operate damped-wave RF generators ("Spark") because their use is prohibited.  We could try operating receivers of the simplest kind, substituting the "best" semiconductor diodes in place of the old "coherer" but I doubt the sensitivity would be useful; it would have no BFO since early-radio telegraphy had such broad noise generation from "Spark" that it wasn't needed.  :D  One could go back to technology of radio of 1912 (when the first USA radio regulating agency was created) but I doubt that such would garner much interest to those of us who had seen/heard/used the progression of technology from ultra-simple of long-ago to the moderately-complex of today.  It is not uncommon to have respondents want to "freeze" all regulations and operations to the time when they first became acquainted with 'radio.'  That way is psychological security, an ease of anxiety of having to learn anything new, a re-inforcement of bragging rights of how THEY did it "back in the day."  That's rather personally arrogant in my opinion.  It also hasn't a single shred of legal precedent.  Laws of TODAY are based on the NEEDS of TODAY, for ALL citizens, not some minority special-interest group.

73, Len K6LHA


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on October 17, 2010, 03:40:26 PM
One more reason for the Extra is its popularity.

Consider these numbers, which are the number of FCC-licensed individuals whose licenses were current on the dates listed:

As of May 14, 2000:

Novice - 49,329 (7.3%)
Technician - 205,394 (30.4%)
Technician Plus - 128,860 (19.1%)
General - 112,677 (16.7%)
Advanced - 99,782 (14.8%)
Extra - 78,750 (11.7%)

Total Tech/TechPlus - 334,254 (49.5%)

Total all classes - 674,792


As of February 22, 2007:

Novice - 22,896 (3.5%)
Technician - 293,508 (44.8%)
Technician Plus - 30,818 (4.7%)
General - 130,138 (19.9%)
Advanced - 69,050 (10.5%)
Extra - 108,270 (16.5%)

Total Tech/TechPlus - 324,326 (49.5%)

Total all classes - 654,680

As of October 16, 2010:

Novice: 15,993 (2.3%)
Technician 341,564 (49.2%)
Technician Plus 0 (0.0%)
General 155,094 (22.3%) (new all-time high)
Advanced 59,661 (8.6%)
Extra 122,290 (17.6%) (new all-time high)

Total 694,602 (new all-time high)

The Novice and Advanced licenses are disappearing by attrition, because the FCC stopped issuing new ones on April 15, 2000. The Technician Plus is gone because not only did the FCC stop issuing new ones but, when a Tech Plus renewed or applied for a vanity call, the license was reclassified as a Technician.

So when considering the Technician class, one should combine the Tech and Tech Plus numbers, because since April 2000 they were essentially the same license class, and since Feb 23 2007 the privileges were exactly the same.

Looking at the changes in the Technician, General and Extra numbers over the past 10 years, with those rules in mind, we see the following:

1) All three license classes increased in number.

2) The combined Tech/Tech Plus numbers grew by 7,310 from April 2000 to October 2010. The number of Generals grew by 43,417 over the same period.

But the number of Extras grew by 43,540!

3) The percentage of hams with General and Extra licenses has changed dramatically too. Extra has grown from 11.7% to 17.6% - an increase of 5.9% of the total. General increased from 16.7% to 22.3%, an increase of 5.6% of the total.

But when you look at the combined Tech/Tech Plus percentage, it has actually *declined* over the past ten years, from 49.5% to 49.2%.

IOW, in terms of numerical and percentage growth, the Extra tops them all. That's a reason to continue it.

73 de Jim, N2EY



Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on October 18, 2010, 03:08:48 PM
One more reason for the Extra is its popularity.
POPULARITY?!?    :D    ROTFLMAO!

The "comparison" from 14 May 2000 to 16 October 2010 is invalid considering the legal effect of FCC 99-412 over those dates, namely the maximum code test rate of 5 WPM and the fact that NO NEW Novice, Technician Plus, or Advanced class licenses would be granted. Additionally, FCC 06-178 eliminated the code test for ANY USA amateur radio license class over 3 1/2 years ago.

Frequency allocations per class remained essentially as they were prior to 14 May 2000...all of those benefiting the Amateur Extra prior and up to present-day. Those who wished to change classes which formerly required a code test rate in excess of 5 WPM were premitted to do so without any additional code test.  Out of that grew the defamatory expression of "Extra Lite" against those who tested for Extra with only the written test elements.

Quote
The Technician Plus is gone because not only did the FCC stop issuing new ones but, when a Tech Plus renewed or applied for a vanity call, the license was reclassified as a Technician.
Technician Plus licensees are NOT yet "gone" since the FCC still carried Technician Plus class as of 18 October 2010 in its daily database ending on midnight (Eastern) of 17 October 2010.  Those are all in their 2-year grace period but they ONCE were as "active" as anyone else.   

Quote
So when considering the Technician class, one should combine the Tech and Tech Plus numbers, because since April 2000 they were essentially the same license class, and since Feb 23 2007 the privileges were exactly the same.
The FCC has issued no such "should" imperative. Technician Plus class is still carried in the ULS.

Quote
Looking at the changes in the Technician, General and Extra numbers over the past 10 years, with those rules in mind, we see the following:
The population of the USA has also increased in the past decade.  As to only amateur radio service, the maximum number of all licensees peaked on 2 July 2003 with 737,938 total.  As of Midnight on 17 October 2010 the total is 3,704 less than that peak.

Just by numbers alone, there is LESS "popularity" in USA amateur radio today.  Numbers alone is a disingenuous criterion for such "popularity."

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But the number of Extras grew by 43,540!
You did not go back far enough to spotlight your own license class of Amateur Extra.  As of November 1988 the FCC database had 47,937 Extra class licensees or 10% of a total of 480,101.

Source of 1988 licensee numbers is from a Compuserve message from Richard Hoffbeck, N0LOX, to Fritz Anderson, NT9T, on 30 Dec 1990.  That tabulation does not include the Technician class created in 1991 nor the renaming (later) of the Technician Plus class.  The average age from
Hoffbeck's tabulation is 51 (all classes).

Quote
But when you look at the combined Tech/Tech Plus percentage, it has actually *declined* over the past ten years, from 49.5% to 49.2%.
Invalid "look" since it it quite easy NOW, as well as a decade ago to change license classes in USA amateur radio.  For example, as reported by www.hamdata.com in the period of 18 Oct 2010 to 18 Oct 2009, there were 14,248 license class changes plus 8,066 callsign changes.  In addition
there were 29,522 new license grants but 22,276 were no longer licensed.

Www.hamdata.com did not exist prior to 2003.  My own records are consistent from 18 Oct 2010 to 18 Oct 2007 and the total of class changes were 85,442 over a 4-year period.  In that same period there were 114,088 new license grants but 100,763 were no longer licensed.  Such values should be enough to skew individual class number changes for two or three dates over a decade of time, to make them invalid for comparison of "popularity."

I have NO INDICATION of the NO-CODE-TEST Technician class license ever STOPPING ITS GROWTH since it was created in 1991.  As of 18 October 2007 the NO-CODE-TEST Technician class totals were 307,978 (43.2% of all 712,507) compared to 18 October 2010 of 354,325 (49.1% of all 722,880).  That is a delta of 46,946 increase.  Over the same time period Extra was 114,955 (16.1%) in 2007 versus 124,451 (17.2%) in 2010, a delta of 9,496 increase.  I can not envision that Extra had any valid "increase" over and above Technician in that time. 

Quote
IOW, in terms of numerical and percentage growth, the Extra tops them all. That's a reason to continue it.
That is more mumbo-jumbo word-twisting. FCC regulations are NOT made around "popularity."  The existing Amateur Extra (once just 'Extra') was created POLITICALLY. It might, maybe had a reason technically a half-century ago but that was way open for discussion.  When the code test was capped at 5 WPM and then eliminated altogether, the Amateur Extra LOST its chance to be "different" from lesser classes. Those who "upgrade" today simply take advantage of the ease of passing upper
written tests to achieve an Extra class to take advantage of maximum operating privileges still in regulations for the last decade-plus.

K6LHA


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on October 19, 2010, 05:58:55 AM
Thus the code test became a sort of Great Equalizer. The elementary school child and the Ph.D.EE would often start at the same level. And sometimes they would not end at the same level.

That's what bothered some folks so much.

The same sort of thing is still going on. Have *any* testing that isn't trivial and you'll find somebody who rails against it and wants it eliminated.

I know I'm supposed to stay out of this discussion ... whatever ...

It took me 15 years to become fluent in a dead language.  When I started my doctoral studies (what the heck, why not mention it considering that this is a pissing contest) I was told that I had to get up to speed in another dead language.  In other words, cram 15 years of proficiency into four years.  Most of the other students have had at least a decade of study in this language.

Let's see ... I've already failed two examinations.  I struggle every single day to read passages that my peers breeze through.  I still sit down every day and plod through the texts.  I know I will triumph.  Every moment is one step closer to proficiency.  When I earn this proficiency I will have earned a prize much greater than the certificate dropped in my mailbox.  Where would I be if I told my department that I didn't need to study languages anymore "since everything's in translation and the students over at Whatsamatta U. don't have to fulfill this requirement."  I'd be given my hat and shown the door. 

Piddling crap like a stupid five minute morse code test means absolutely nothing in life.  Children, not adults, think in terms of entitlement.

73, Jordan   


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on October 19, 2010, 04:18:24 PM
I know I'm supposed to stay out of this discussion ... whatever ...

Why are you supposed to stay out of it? Seems to me you have something to contribute even if I don't agree with all of what you say.

It took me 15 years to become fluent in a dead language.  When I started my doctoral studies (what the heck, why not mention it considering that this is a pissing contest) I was told that I had to get up to speed in another dead language.  In other words, cram 15 years of proficiency into four years.  Most of the other students have had at least a decade of study in this language.

But Morse Code isn't a dead language; you can hear hams using it *on the air* all over the world.

And the license exams in the USA have never required anything approaching fluency. Or even proficiency.

I mean, even the old 20 wpm test only required 1 solid minute out of 5, or getting 7 of 10 questions right.

Piddling crap like a stupid five minute morse code test means absolutely nothing in life.

I dunno about that. For me, it was part of getting a license that opened up a whole new world for me. Others let it be a barrier for them - for decades, in some cases.

Makes you wonder what all the fuss is about, though.

Children, not adults, think in terms of entitlement.

Well said!

73 de Jim, N2EY

btw - which dead languages?



Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on October 20, 2010, 11:49:44 AM
But Morse Code isn't a dead language; you can hear hams using it *on the air* all over the world.

And the license exams in the USA have never required anything approaching fluency. Or even proficiency.

I mean, even the old 20 wpm test only required 1 solid minute out of 5, or getting 7 of 10 questions right.

I got precisely seven out of ten on my 20 wpm quiz.  I could not head copy 20 at the time, and I can't handwrite anything faster than 10 wpm (poor fine motor control).  But somehow I passed the test fair and square.  Nowadays I can copy 20 wpm onto a page but I would need a "mill" (i.e. a laptop).

Anyway, CW is a language.  The international version has a special alphabet (twenty six Roman characters + punctuation + five procedural characters) and a special vocabulary that transcends spoken or literary language.  The code license exams don't test anything but the first part of a "standard" contact that one would learn as a Novice.  So, in that respect, fluency is not taught (i.e. the comprehension tri- and polysyllabic words.)   

Piddling crap like a stupid five minute morse code test means absolutely nothing in life.

I dunno about that. For me, it was part of getting a license that opened up a whole new world for me. Others let it be a barrier for them - for decades, in some cases.

Makes you wonder what all the fuss is about, though.

Okay, that was a little harsh.  What I meant to say is this: you and I have passed exams that are much more intensive and significant than the code exams.  Here I refer to school and professional exams.  I agree that the code exams opened a new world of leisure and interest to me (that is, CW operation).  Yet, I would never be asked to drop out of school or lose professional accreditation and esteem for not passing the 20 wpm or any ham exam. 

Those, however, who let the old exams become a barrier were often afraid to fail.  Paraphrase Abraham Lincoln: It is not important that you've failed, but whether you are satisfied with your failure.  How many people lost a whole ham "career" because they couldn't be satisfied with failure?  I was lucky in that I passed the 20 wpm and didn't have to sit the 13 wpm, but I would have sat in that plastic chair for as long as it would take to earn that Extra.  Glad I never have to listen to that cheap tinny speaker, though. 

btw - which dead languages?

Latin and ancient Greek.  It's the Greek that needs desperate help. 

73, Jordan


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on October 20, 2010, 03:08:08 PM
I got precisely seven out of ten on my 20 wpm quiz.  I could not head copy 20 at the time, and I can't handwrite anything faster than 10 wpm (poor fine motor control).  But somehow I passed the test fair and square.  Nowadays I can copy 20 wpm onto a page but I would need a "mill" (i.e. a laptop).

Use of a typewriter has always been permitted - if the person being tested supplied it. (btw, "mill" in the strictest sense refers only to a typewriter...)

You may recall my story of how the FCC examiner couldn't read my "Palmer Method" script at 13 wpm, so I went home and taught myself to block-print Signal Corps style at 30 wpm. Went back and passed on the second go.

Anyway, CW is a language.  The international version has a special alphabet (twenty six Roman characters + punctuation + five procedural characters) and a special vocabulary that transcends spoken or literary language.  The code license exams don't test anything but the first part of a "standard" contact that one would learn as a Novice.  So, in that respect, fluency is not taught (i.e. the comprehension tri- and polysyllabic words.) 

Exactly. Plain language English text, that's all. Similar to learning to recognize 41 words in a foreign language - except that the words would always be spoken the same except for speed.

Now, you wanna talk about fluency....how about being able to carry on a complete conversation at 30+ wpm without writing anything down? How about being able to copy a long message (couple of hundred words) with 100% copy using pencil and paper?

What I meant to say is this: you and I have passed exams that are much more intensive and significant than the code exams.  Here I refer to school and professional exams.  I agree that the code exams opened a new world of leisure and interest to me (that is, CW operation).  Yet, I would never be asked to drop out of school or lose professional accreditation and esteem for not passing the 20 wpm or any ham exam.

Nor would you get multiple chances at the test, or near-complete freedom as to when you took it. Nor a wide variety of free and near-free ways of learning and practicing it.
 
Those, however, who let the old exams become a barrier were often afraid to fail.  Paraphrase Abraham Lincoln: It is not important that you've failed, but whether you are satisfied with your failure.  How many people lost a whole ham "career" because they couldn't be satisfied with failure?.

No, they lost out because they wouldn't even take the *risk* of failing. The person who tries and fails has at least tried.

But your point is still valid: Some were afraid to even try because they *might* fail.

There are/were also some who thought the requirements were beneath their dignity. Just the name of the Novice license stopped at least one I know of. The idea of having to learn something nontrivial from scratch just to get an amateur radio license stopped some too.

btw - which dead languages?


Latin and ancient Greek.  It's the Greek that needs desperate help. 

I had 2 years of Latin in high school; to this day I think the time would have been better spent learning other things, like typing. (In those days, students above a certain academic level at my schools were not allowed to take typing as a course. We were expected to learn it on our own if we wanted the skill).

Latin was a requirement that had to be met, so we met it.

At least it wasn't like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIAdHEwiAy8

Greek is more involved for a whole bunch of reasons, such as using a somewhat-different alphabet. I can "read" modern Greek in that I can look at the letters and tell you approximately how the words are pronounced. Translating it is another thing entirely.

---

Here's a thought-experiment for you:

Imagine a world where Morse Code and American Sign Language were taught to all students in the schools as a "life skill". Could be part of Language Arts, starting in elementary school.

Imagine a world where almost everyone you met understood ASL and Morse Code at some level, so you could converse in a variety of ways.

Wouldn't that be great?

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on October 21, 2010, 04:56:38 AM
Now, you wanna talk about fluency....how about being able to carry on a complete conversation at 30+ wpm without writing anything down? How about being able to copy a long message (couple of hundred words) with 100% copy using pencil and paper?

I'm without a station, so practice is difficult.  I can do 20 wpm head copy well enough, but I keep working at 30 wpm standard English text (not CW language or contest).  I also work on sending so that when I get back on the air I'll be comprehensible.  I also bought a better pair of paddles that should be easier on the hands.  A good portion of ham radio training takes place off the air.  I'd hope that the Olympic shot-put competitors practice before the big event.  If not, I'll sit somewhere in the stadium that's away from the trajectory of the weight.     

I had 2 years of Latin in high school; to this day I think the time would have been better spent learning other things, like typing. (In those days, students above a certain academic level at my schools were not allowed to take typing as a course. We were expected to learn it on our own if we wanted the skill).

Latin was a requirement that had to be met, so we met it.

I had to take a year of single-variable calculus in high school despite my best efforts.  I've forgotten all of it and still have to use a simple calculator for many things.  So, some courses are useful for some and not for others.  I remember reading that you are an EE, so advanced math is as important for you as Latin is for me.

At least it wasn't like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIAdHEwiAy8

That segment of Life of Brian (one of my favorite movies as well, and also a great way to teach late antiquity and early Christianity to undergraduates) highlights the once heavy emphasis on Latin and Greek in the British grammar school curriculum.  This is no longer the case.  However, I bet more than one older English person sympathized with Brian's poor Latin.

Here's an example from Ingmar Bergman that reminds me of my high school Latin classes:

http://tinyurl.com/2g3nvgu (if you have IE8 or greater, use the 'transcript' function for the subtitles)

My high school Latin teacher wasn't sadistic but rather an elderly and somewhat senile priest.  But the setting is familiar, down to the all-boys'-school and the business attire. 

Greek is more involved for a whole bunch of reasons, such as using a somewhat-different alphabet. I can "read" modern Greek in that I can look at the letters and tell you approximately how the words are pronounced. Translating it is another thing entirely.

Until 1975 or so Greece was a diglossic (actually triglossic) society: state business and newspapers were in katharevousa, or the "high" dialect, similar to the New Testament Greek; most people spoke demotic, which is the organic vernacular; and pure New Testament Greek (koine) was heard at Mass.  Now only the demotic "Modern Greek" is used in everyday life (God is still addressed in the ancient language).  I can read katharevousa fairly well because it is relatively close to the New Testament.  But I have no clue with Modern Greek.  It is almost a completely different language from Plato and Paul.     

Here's a thought-experiment for you:

Imagine a world where Morse Code and American Sign Language were taught to all students in the schools as a "life skill". Could be part of Language Arts, starting in elementary school.

Imagine a world where almost everyone you met understood ASL and Morse Code at some level, so you could converse in a variety of ways.

Wouldn't that be great?

I think it would.  I have a close compsci friend who thought it would be great to program cellphones with morse code for touch text messaging.  I could never get him to be a ham -- he labored under the myth that "ham radio was expensive" even though his undergraduate EE school had a Kenwood hybrid station right in the building.  He is a very intelligent person who could have gotten through all the exams as a teen.  Anyway, his idea would be a great way to mainstream code into society.  This invention would also quell those who complain that "morse code is useless today" or other excuse.     

It doesn't take much to teach a child new languages.  A class could easily add ASL to to the curriculum.  However, the American educational system prefers general education rather than specific training.  In Germany, for example, anywhere from 10% to 25% of the student population is selected at around age 12 for a classical academic education (gymnasia), while others are trained for clerical, managerial, retail, and manual occupations.  The exclusion of ASL (or any additional language education) for a relative few would create political entanglements that I suspect many school boards would rather avoid.  Nevertheless, I think that ASL is a wonderful idea within the context of private education or well-funded and receptive public districts.

73, Jordan


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on October 21, 2010, 11:16:06 AM
Here's a fantastic THOUGHT EXPERIMENT for everyone:

Suppose someone started a topic with a question and everyone else actually REPLIED ON-TOPIC?!?

Like, without overhauling the entire academic community or parroting the myth that International Morse Code is a "language" instead of what it really is, an atonal on-off-keying representation of the characters in the ENGLISH LANGUAGE?

I guess that is just too revolutionary for this group of gurus...     ;D

73, Len K6LHA


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K7KBN on October 21, 2010, 01:26:51 PM
Here's a fantastic THOUGHT EXPERIMENT for everyone:

Suppose someone started a topic with a question and everyone else actually REPLIED ON-TOPIC?!?

Like, without overhauling the entire academic community or parroting the myth that International Morse Code is a "language" instead of what it really is, an atonal on-off-keying representation of the characters in the ENGLISH LANGUAGE?

I guess that is just too revolutionary for this group of gurus...     ;D

73, Len K6LHA


...and Cyrillic characters in the RUSSIAN LANGUAGE, kana characters in the JAPANESE LANGUAGE, diacritically diverse characters in the GERMAN, FRENCH, SPANISH, SCANDANAVIAN AND ICELANDIC LANGUAGES, and many more.  Widen your mind a little, Lennie.  Or is that too counterrevolutionary for your group of one?


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on October 21, 2010, 06:39:42 PM
Now, you wanna talk about fluency....how about being able to carry on a complete conversation at 30+ wpm without writing anything down? How about being able to copy a long message (couple of hundred words) with 100% copy using pencil and paper?

I'm without a station, so practice is difficult.  I can do 20 wpm head copy well enough, but I keep working at 30 wpm standard English text (not CW language or contest).  I also work on sending so that when I get back on the air I'll be comprehensible.  I also bought a better pair of paddles that should be easier on the hands.  A good portion of ham radio training takes place off the air.  I'd hope that the Olympic shot-put competitors practice before the big event.  If not, I'll sit somewhere in the stadium that's away from the trajectory of the weight. 

Sorry if I wasn't clear.

I was trying to emphasize the point that even the old 20-wpm-in-front-of-FCC-examiner test wasn't "proficiency" or "fluency" compared to what a lot of hams have learned to do - and do every day.

As for being without a station, a Morse Code station is about the simplest and least expensive way to get on the air. But see below about "expensive".


I had to take a year of single-variable calculus in high school despite my best efforts.  I've forgotten all of it and still have to use a simple calculator for many things.  So, some courses are useful for some and not for others.  I remember reading that you are an EE, so advanced math is as important for you as Latin is for me.

Of course. But there's more to it: Math is also about logic, about learning to follow rules and come up with exact and correct answers. Math is not about opinions; it doesn't matter how many people think 2 plus 2 equals 5.


That segment of Life of Brian (one of my favorite movies as well, and also a great way to teach late antiquity and early Christianity to undergraduates) highlights the once heavy emphasis on Latin and Greek in the British grammar school curriculum.  This is no longer the case.  However, I bet more than one older English person sympathized with Brian's poor Latin.

My high-school Latin experience was about the same; I understood that scene perfectly.

When "Life of Brian" came out, I and several of my highschool friends went to see it. We all related to that scene.

Another favorite was the exchange in "Holy Grail" where the peasant argues politics with King Arthur, and demolishes all possible arguments for a monarchy. Particularly one granted by "a farcical aquatic ceremony".

"Who made you king? I didn't vote for you!"


My high school Latin teacher wasn't sadistic but rather an elderly and somewhat senile priest.  But the setting is familiar, down to the all-boys'-school and the business attire. 

I went to a similar high school. Same attire, same sort of thing, but the teacher was neither senile nor sadistic. Just strict. And from the Netherlands. Fluent in English, Latin, Greek (classic), French, German and a couple of other languages. For all I know he even knew Morse Code; he'd survived the Nazi occupation during WW2 and had been involved in some rather underground doings. 

Here's a thought-experiment for you:

Imagine a world where Morse Code and American Sign Language were taught to all students in the schools as a "life skill". Could be part of Language Arts, starting in elementary school.

Imagine a world where almost everyone you met understood ASL and Morse Code at some level, so you could converse in a variety of ways.

Wouldn't that be great?

I think it would.  I have a close compsci friend who thought it would be great to program cellphones with morse code for touch text messaging.  I could never get him to be a ham -- he labored under the myth that "ham radio was expensive" even though his undergraduate EE school had a Kenwood hybrid station right in the building.  He is a very intelligent person who could have gotten through all the exams as a teen.  Anyway, his idea would be a great way to mainstream code into society.  This invention would also quell those who complain that "morse code is useless today" or other excuse. 

There are several Morse-related apps. A whole new generation is discovering the usefulness of a human-machine interface that doesn't require you to look at the machine.

One really neat application of Morse in everyday life is to have your cellphone ringtones spell out the caller in Morse. That way you know who is calling by the ring.   

About your friend's idea that ham radio is "expensive" - in a way, it is very expensive.

Nowadays ham radio *equipment* is less expensive than ever, when you consider what you get for your money and adjust for inflation. For example, for <$2000 you can get a mid-range MF/HF/6 transceiver with ATU and filters, coax, mike, key, power supply, antenna, etc. All brand new and ready-made.

$2000 in today's money equates to about $250-300 when I started out as a ham, and back then $250-300 bought a new midrange receiver - maybe. (Drake 2B with 2BQ).

What's expensive about ham radio today is the house to put it in.


It doesn't take much to teach a child new languages.  A class could easily add ASL to to the curriculum.  However, the American educational system prefers general education rather than specific training.  In Germany, for example, anywhere from 10% to 25% of the student population is selected at around age 12 for a classical academic education (gymnasia), while others are trained for clerical, managerial, retail, and manual occupations.  The exclusion of ASL (or any additional language education) for a relative few would create political entanglements that I suspect many school boards would rather avoid.  Nevertheless, I think that ASL is a wonderful idea within the context of private education or well-funded and receptive public districts.

Couple of points:

- There is no such thing as "the American educational system", at least outside of general guidelines and unfunded mandates. What we have are thousands of educational systems that vary from world-class excellent to simply awful, depending on the situation. A big part of the problem is money, of course; good education doesn't come cheap. Some communities are much more willing (and able) to invest in the future than others. Even the best schools struggle to meet all the mandates and requirements.

- American culture in general often suffers from the "NIH problem" (Not Invented Here). You see it in health care, transit, energy policy, trade policy, and of course education. Heaven forbid the USA should learn from other countries' successes!

- There is considerable research and experience which shows that babies are able to learn basic sign even before speech. They can then sign what they want (food, diaper change, etc.) instead of just wailing. Still in its early stages, but imagine...

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on October 22, 2010, 08:51:37 AM
Of course. But there's more to it: Math is also about logic, about learning to follow rules and come up with exact and correct answers. Math is not about opinions; it doesn't matter how many people think 2 plus 2 equals 5.

I agree so far as the hard sciences teach logical thinking and an understanding of the natural world through the properties of numbers (i.e. through the intersection of physics, chemistry, and mathematics).  Humanities education, and the humanistic argument, are important as well.  A term paper in history, for example, ideally should not demonstrate opinion but the ability to formulate a thesis and argument well.  It's not that much different than scientific inquiry.  A math problem or physics problem involves both the answer and the proof.  A person who writes a calculus test without proving his or her answers would receive a very poor score on a test.  Likewise, a humanities student with interesting opinions but a weak thesis and argument would likewise do poorly.  Part of the difficulty in higher humanities education today derives from the secondary school emphasis on creativity.  Creativity and imagination are great engines for progress and discovery.  These phenomena must be harnessed by the scientific method, the mathematical proof, and the cogent argument.   

There is no such thing as "the American educational system", at least outside of general guidelines and unfunded mandates. What we have are thousands of educational systems that vary from world-class excellent to simply awful, depending on the situation. A big part of the problem is money, of course; good education doesn't come cheap. Some communities are much more willing (and able) to invest in the future than others. Even the best schools struggle to meet all the mandates and requirements.

This is quite true.  Recent efforts at national secondary curricula (such as the Advanced Placement) have not benefited most students.  There is also the legacy of Jim Crow and de facto segregation well after the Civil Rights Act.  The end of official discrimination has not ended implicit discrimination.  Then again, in Germany very few immigrants sit for the Abitur (national university entrance exam.)  The large "guest worker" Turkish population in Germany faces strong educational discrimination within a system that favors Germans and more specifically affluent Germans.  The decentralization of the American secondary curriculum is a distraction from the socio-economic and ethnic factors that gird this debate. 

While "poor" districts have difficulty meeting basic educational needs, wealthy districts often struggle with tort.  The school district for my American address contains a healthy portion of affluent families.  Perhaps you are familiar with the phrase "helicopter parents".  Many parents today micromanage their children's education to the point of harassing high school and university administration for benefits for their children.  This Connecticut school district has faced a number of tort cases on issues ranging from special education access and the accommodation of a student with a peanut product allergy.  Wealthy districts might have the hypothetical means to provide strong educational benefits to students.  Sometimes wealth is a millstone around the necks of administrators.  The superintendent of the Connecticut district demands a very high salary for a district superintendent.  However, he receives this salary for his ability to manage the often difficult entanglements in his district.   

There is considerable research and experience which shows that babies are able to learn basic sign even before speech. They can then sign what they want (food, diaper change, etc.) instead of just wailing. Still in its early stages, but imagine...

Yes, very young children are quite receptive to language.  It's important, however, to take a measured approach to the introduction of languages.  A few years ago the "Baby Einstein" videotapes and CD's were all the rage.  Mothers would even place the headphones over a gestating child.  I suspect that it is counterproductive to introduce language to a child under the pretext that language acquisition will make a child smarter.  All of us are composites of intellectual strengths and weaknesses.  Rather, language acquisition for very young children should be approached as a gift of communication rather than planning for the SATs.

73, Jordan


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on October 22, 2010, 12:54:54 PM
...and Cyrillic characters in the RUSSIAN LANGUAGE, kana characters in the JAPANESE LANGUAGE, diacritically diverse characters in the GERMAN, FRENCH, SPANISH, SCANDANAVIAN AND ICELANDIC LANGUAGES, and many more. 
Now, now...let's not get all riled up about this pseudo-intellectual bloggism going on about languages, not to mention the usual Bile, Resentment, Anger and RANTING about the ending of all code testing for USA amateur radio licenses on 23 Feb 10 that simmers just below boiling point
with so many amateur long-timers.

If you had ever looked at the USA amateur radio regulations after 1974, you might have noticed that it was specifically stated in LAW for USA radio amateurs that it was INTERNATIONAL MORSE CODE.  The referenced document in Part 97, Title 47 C.F.R., in 1995 was an old CCITT document-
regulation, later updated by the FCC to be the same document under the ITU-T (International Telecommunications Union) format.  Same subject and was for international communications, NOT specifically for amateur radio, in fact not even referencing amateur radio per se.

I have both the CCITT and ITU documents. Both specifically define the English Language characters. Repeat, ENGLISH. It was NOT any Russian Cyrillic, NOT[ Japanese Kanji or Katakana, NOT any other language but English. The original implied reason for
the document was to standardize civil international telegraphy exchanges.

Yes, "morse code" has many different variatnts/dialects/redefinitions that spread throughout the world since the first Morse-Vail Telegram line opened up between Washington, DC, and Baltimore, MD, in 1844. Let's stop and think: 1844 was 166 years ago. 'Radio' would not be publicly demonstrated as a communications medium until 1896, 52 years later. 'Radio' is only 114 years old and, in the beginning, so technologically primitive that the only practical means of communicating was to turn the transmitter on and off. "Morse code" was good enough for that purpose since it just turned a
landline electrical current on and off.

It is totally illogical (if not ridiculous) to assume that 'morse code' or, more properly, OOK CW is 'perfectly readable' to anyone using a language other than English. For amateur radio use, the international STANDARD adopted was the original CCITT international standard for telegraphy
exchanges. 'Dialects' of OOK CW languages, notably the symbolic-reqpresentations such as Arabic or Asian variations do not have anything in common with alphabetic languages. The only way to facilitate international telegram exchanges was to standardize on ONE language. Long ago, before my time and yours, that language was English.

A problem that native-English speakers have is that they think "everyone" has the cognitive ability in English, especially the arrogant amateur old-timers. USA and UK radio amateurs have it easy with "morse code" since they are (almost always) native-English speakers. INTERNATIONAL MORSE CODE characters are specifically defined as being based on the ENGLISH language.     

Quote
Widen your mind a little, Lennie.  Or is that too counterrevolutionary for your group of one?
I am tempted to reply in-kind but then have to realize that you began as a USN professional in radio and spent 32 years in that military branch. I would surmise that you are confusing your military professionalism with USA AMATEUR radio regulations. 'Radio' is not synonymous with "morse code." The first 'radio' communications began with "morse code" simply because it was a technologically-primitive, but established for 52 years, means of conveying communications across long distances.

I began as a US Army professional in HF radio in early February 1953. I don't confuse my military experience with my amateur radio experience except to note that the technology is the SAME due o the laws of physics, not by man-made laws of use. While still in the military, I operated on VHF nd UHF and microwaves up to 1.8 GHz. Not a single radio circuit on any of 36 high-power HF ransmitters at "my" radio station used any OOK CW modes for any radio circuit. Since 1948, not just 1953.
=============================
In the beginning of this topic Why Have An Amateur Extra?, KD8HMO asked that question on 21 ugust 2010. Since then the "answers" went beyond the topic by quite a bit. Finally, they approached the Blog Orbit and settled into some New Topic far removed from offending the angry old-timers who have had their Extras so long they think they are "experts" on everything in the world.  ;D

I would suggest that folks in here consider the MISCELLANEOUS Forum for subjects that don't all under the old-timers' "do it our way or not at all!" ranting. <shrug>

73, Len K6LHA


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on October 22, 2010, 05:13:18 PM

I agree so far as the hard sciences teach logical thinking and an understanding of the natural world through the properties of numbers (i.e. through the intersection of physics, chemistry, and mathematics).  Humanities education, and the humanistic argument, are important as well.  A term paper in history, for example, ideally should not demonstrate opinion but the ability to formulate a thesis and argument well.  It's not that much different than scientific inquiry.  A math problem or physics problem involves both the answer and the proof.  A person who writes a calculus test without proving his or her answers would receive a very poor score on a test.  Likewise, a humanities student with interesting opinions but a weak thesis and argument would likewise do poorly.

I agree that both the hard sciences and the humanities are important. IMHO the most important thing is to balance the two.

But the point about opinions vs. logic is best illustrated by an example.

Consider a physics/math problem where you are told that a train is at rest at a certain point on a long straight track. It then accelerates according to a given formula for a certain amount of time, then goes at a steady speed, then decelerates, accelerates, reverses direction, etc., according to information given in the problem.

You are asked to calculate the final position of the train relative to its starting position using the given data, which includes the fact that relativistic effects do not enter into it.

Such a problem can be calculated several ways, but has one and only one correct answer.

Now consider a history question in which you are asked to explain in an essay why the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Such an essay would discuss all sorts of factors, such as:

- the USA cutting off sales of oil and other strategic materials to Japan earlier in 1941
- the expansionist mindset of the Japanese leadership at the time
- the apparent victories of the Axis powers in Europe, and the perceived distraction of US and UK attention there
- the Japanese belief that the USA was unready and unwilling to fight, particularly if a decisive battle were lost early on

and many more.

There is no single correct answer to such a question. The way to answer it is to display an understanding of the various factors and to discuss how they influenced the decision to attack.

And if asked what was the most important single factor, the answer is really one of opinion. Of course one can present a well-founded and well-presented opinion, or an opinion that isn't, but in the end it's an opinion.

See the difference?

There is no such thing as "the American educational system", at least outside of general guidelines and unfunded mandates. What we have are thousands of educational systems that vary from world-class excellent to simply awful, depending on the situation. A big part of the problem is money, of course; good education doesn't come cheap. Some communities are much more willing (and able) to invest in the future than others. Even the best schools struggle to meet all the mandates and requirements.

This is quite true.  Recent efforts at national secondary curricula (such as the Advanced Placement) have not benefited most students.  There is also the legacy of Jim Crow and de facto segregation well after the Civil Rights Act.  The end of official discrimination has not ended implicit discrimination.

What de facto segregation exists today in US education? If someone lives in a particular school district, they have a right to a free, appropriate public education from that district, regardless of their ethnicity, "race", gender, etc. They also have the choice of private schools.

Of course the quality of education varies enormously from school district to school district. One common solution is to move to a good school district - if you can afford to. That's a question of economics, not segregation.

Then again, in Germany very few immigrants sit for the Abitur (national university entrance exam.)  The large "guest worker" Turkish population in Germany faces strong educational discrimination within a system that favors Germans and more specifically affluent Germans.  The decentralization of the American secondary curriculum is a distraction from the socio-economic and ethnic factors that gird this debate.  

I disagree in part. It's not just the secondary curriculum; all levels are important.

IMHO the biggest factor is what the communities value. See below for more on that.

While "poor" districts have difficulty meeting basic educational needs, wealthy districts often struggle with tort.  The school district for my American address contains a healthy portion of affluent families.  Perhaps you are familiar with the phrase "helicopter parents".  Many parents today micromanage their children's education to the point of harassing high school and university administration for benefits for their children.  This Connecticut school district has faced a number of tort cases on issues ranging from special education access and the accommodation of a student with a peanut product allergy.  Wealthy districts might have the hypothetical means to provide strong educational benefits to students.  Sometimes wealth is a millstone around the necks of administrators.  The superintendent of the Connecticut district demands a very high salary for a district superintendent.  However, he receives this salary for his ability to manage the often difficult entanglements in his district.  

I agree there are extreme cases of helicoptering. But I think they are the exception.

btw, I have some experience in this whole area. Doesn't make me an expert, just a person who has dealt with many of these issues.

What I see in many cases is the parents being advocates for their children's rights. In the old days, the public schools could simply ignore the needs of children with special needs, particularly if those needs involved significant costs. Those days are gone - which is a good thing, but it raises the price.

At the same time, the schools are mandated to provide the "least restrictive" appropriate educational environment - which means the least services. No district has infinite resources, too.

For example, what should be done for the kid with the peanut allergy? It's a life-threatening condition, but manageable if the kid is simply kept away from peanuts. Should s/he be denied a public education because of it?

Or consider the kids with special educational needs - should they be denied an appropriate education if their parents are not rich enough to send them to special private schools?

(Look up a woman named Temple Grandin for an example of the difference an appropriate education can make).

There is considerable research and experience which shows that babies are able to learn basic sign even before speech. They can then sign what they want (food, diaper change, etc.) instead of just wailing. Still in its early stages, but imagine...

Yes, very young children are quite receptive to language.  It's important, however, to take a measured approach to the introduction of languages.  A few years ago the "Baby Einstein" videotapes and CD's were all the rage.  Mothers would even place the headphones over a gestating child.  I suspect that it is counterproductive to introduce language to a child under the pretext that language acquisition will make a child smarter.  All of us are composites of intellectual strengths and weaknesses.  Rather, language acquisition for very young children should be approached as a gift of communication rather than planning for the SATs.

It's a question of balance. And of distinguishing real science from fads & fashions. Which isn't easy.

For example, one of the biggest factors influencing children is what they see their parents doing. If the parental units are always watching TV, the kids will think that's normal, even before they have the language to express it. And they will probably imitate the behavior. If they see the parental units reading, they'll think *that's* normal - and probably imitate the behavior.

If they are read to often, they will get even more benefits.

I have known children who essentially taught themselves to read because they wanted to read to their parents...

About the social factors:

One of the problems many districts face is lack of funding even though they are in areas perceived as "wealthy". The community sometimes refuses to adequately fund the schools, for a variety of reasons. The result is often that people who value education for their kids move away, people who don't move in, and the disparity escalates.

Another problem is districts getting bogged down in things like teaching "creationism", which drains resources but doesn't educate anyone. (Listen to Chris Smithers' song "Origin of Species" for a fresh view on the issue).

There are districts where there is almost unlimited funding for certain sports but other aspects of education are neglected.

There are districts where the parents expect the schools to work miracles with no support at home. And districts where the parents expect almost nothing from the schools.

There are districts where the enormous operating expense of old buildings consumes the few available resources.

Some folks point to the parochial and private schools and point out how they manage to educate kids for less money than the public schools. What they ignore is the fact that those schools can simply not admit any student they choose not to admit.

How do we fix all those factors?

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K7KBN on October 22, 2010, 05:52:11 PM
Wrong again, Len.  I did spend 32 years in the USN/USNR, but I didn't START there.  I was a ham for about four years before my active Navy duty began.  That helped me quite a bit going through school and even more once I got to the fleet.  On my first cruise to WESTPAC, with the flag on board and the extra traffic that entailed, over 80 percent of our outgoing traffic was on CW.  Things were fine when the HF link held up, but when it started to fade, or when the bad guys started jamming the secure stuff, CW always made it.  Even on my second WESTPAC, more than 50 percent of the outgoing traffic had to be with CW.  No satellites; no computers.  Just old-school radio, with operators who knew how to communicate.

No, radio isn't synonymous with Morse code -- but CW is a PART of radio.  Always has been; always will be, your opinion notwithstanding.

By the way - I enjoy it when you use that "OOK" thing.  Somehow I picture a monkey....


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on October 22, 2010, 06:04:23 PM
But the point about opinions vs. logic is best illustrated by an example.

Consider a physics/math problem where you are told that a train is at rest at a certain point on a long straight track.

<snip>

Such a problem can be calculated several ways, but has one and only one correct answer.

Now consider a history question in which you are asked to explain in an essay why the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

<snip>

And if asked what was the most important single factor, the answer is really one of opinion. Of course one can present a well-founded and well-presented opinion, or an opinion that isn't, but in the end it's an opinion.

See the difference?

Yes.  Both skills are necessary in a well rounded person and a well rounded education.  The formulation of opinion in a humanities course is a logical exercise.

The advanced study of language, and especially the highly inflected languages such as German, Greek, Latin, Russian, (and Japanese, Mandarin, and Cantonese even though they are not Indo-European) provide some development of logical abilities.  Is language study a substitute for mathematical or scientific study?  No, but the ability to fluently express thought in more than one language (including "international" CW and its derivative character sets) develops the logical facility in a manner similar to math.  I often get English and Latin grammar and style confused.  Early drafts of my articles and papers are often punctuation deficient since Latin does not require much punctuation.  I wonder if people trained in higher math and physics often construct language through the prism of mathematical equation.  My German is barely passable.  When I become stronger in the language I would like to read some of Einstein, for example.  How is his German different than Goethe, Nietzsche, or Kant?     

What de facto segregation exists today in US education? If someone lives in a particular school district, they have a right to a free, appropriate public education from that district, regardless of their ethnicity, "race", gender, etc. They also have the choice of private schools.

Of course the quality of education varies enormously from school district to school district. One common solution is to move to a good school district - if you can afford to. That's a question of economics, not segregation.

I agree with you in part.  Civil rights laws mandate that all students must receive educational accommodation in their school district.  We all know that that has yet to be realized in many cases (read Jonathan Kozol on the South Bronx, for example).  Many lower income persons are victims of redlining and district gerrymandering.  These illegal or questionably legal practices deny many access to quality educational opportunities especially if the mobility of lower income persons is compromised.  I've seen this in the Long Island community where I grew up.  The school district lines were precisely drawn to benefit the upper middle class only.  These district lines effectively barred students from an adjoining community from attending a better-funded school.  Some boys from less well performing districts were able to attend the Catholic school I attended.  The school has a sizable endowment and very low salary employees (brothers and priests get the minimum salary needed to receive Social Security.)  Hence many boys were able to escape bad districts and receive a good scholarship.     

I agree there are extreme cases of helicoptering. But I think they are the exception.

btw, I have some experience in this whole area. Doesn't make me an expert, just a person who has dealt with many of these issues.

What I see in many cases is the parents being advocates for their children's rights. In the old days, the public schools could simply ignore the needs of children with special needs, particularly if those needs involved significant costs. Those days are gone - which is a good thing, but it raises the price.

I completely agree.  My brother is developmentally disabled.  My parents fought very hard for his educational accommodation and eventual residence in a group home.  It was a long, hard, and often discouraging slog.  He is now well taken care of and reasonably happy.  That is all we can expect in life (and perhaps salvation/enlightenment/Xenu).  My parents were able to do all of this without lodging lawsuits against the school district. 

Retaliatory lawsuits serve no one in a community.  Students suffer from teacher embroilment in litigation. Skilled administrators and teachers are sometimes dismissed for reasons unrelated to their personal or professional conduct.   Finally, taxpayers are left to pay for legal fees that could have been directed towards the improvement of all students' education.  In this particular peanut allergy case, the school district made every attempt to protect the student from peanut contamination.  The student was permitted to eat separately from other students and store her lunch in the nurse's office.  I believe that the rift began when the parents requested an unusual accommodation (such as a late and variable arrival at school).  The district refused this request, and the parents sued almost every employee in the school. 

There is a difference between advocacy and tort as intimidation.  I refuse to believe that the accommodation of the disabled and allergic must take place under the threat of subpoena.

73, Jordan       


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on October 22, 2010, 07:01:11 PM
I was a ham for about four years before my active Navy duty began.  That helped me quite a bit going through school and even more once I got to the fleet.  On my first cruise to WESTPAC, with the flag on board and the extra traffic that entailed, over 80 percent of our outgoing traffic was on CW.  Things were fine when the HF link held up, but when it started to fade, or when the bad guys started jamming the secure stuff, CW always made it.  Even on my second WESTPAC, more than 50 percent of the outgoing traffic had to be with CW.  No satellites; no computers.  Just old-school radio, with operators who knew how to communicate.

If you don't mind me asking - when was this? I'm not disputing your story, just want to put some dates on it.

No, radio isn't synonymous with Morse code -- but CW is a PART of radio.  Always has been; always will be

Well said!

73 es TNX de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on October 22, 2010, 07:38:29 PM
Both skills are necessary in a well rounded person and a well rounded education.  The formulation of opinion in a humanities course is a logical exercise.

Agreed!

But all too often, the idea is put forth that all opinions are equally valid regardless of how they are derived.

For example, I once encountered a person who insisted that a particular brand and flavor of ice cream was the absolute best tasting in the world - in his opinion. I pointed out to him that such an opinion wasn't "well formed", because he hadn't tasted every brand and flavor in the world, and so couldn't logically state that opinion. What he *could* logically state was that the particular brand and flavor of ice cream he liked was the absolute best tasting he had found - in his opinion. *That* would be a well-formed opinion.

In the case of amateur radio, I've seen folks with little or no ham radio experience telling us how amateur radio should be.

The advanced study of language, and especially the highly inflected languages such as German, Greek, Latin, Russian, (and Japanese, Mandarin, and Cantonese even though they are not Indo-European) provide some development of logical abilities.  Is language study a substitute for mathematical or scientific study?  No, but the ability to fluently express thought in more than one language (including "international" CW and its derivative character sets) develops the logical facility in a manner similar to math.  I often get English and Latin grammar and style confused.  Early drafts of my articles and papers are often punctuation deficient since Latin does not require much punctuation.  I wonder if people trained in higher math and physics often construct language through the prism of mathematical equation.  My German is barely passable.  When I become stronger in the language I would like to read some of Einstein, for example.  How is his German different than Goethe, Nietzsche, or Kant? 

I don't know much about German. But I can say that math can become a language in itself.

There are also specialized terms used in various applications that reach the point of being unintelligible to those not in the know.

Consider the following list of tasks:

1) Pound out chickenheads near two-headed dwarf
2) Burn nuts off frog
3) Install chocolate drops where required
4) Drop links and double-nut

I've had whole conversations like that.
   

I agree with you in part.  Civil rights laws mandate that all students must receive educational accommodation in their school district.  We all know that that has yet to be realized in many cases (read Jonathan Kozol on the South Bronx, for example).  Many lower income persons are victims of redlining and district gerrymandering.  These illegal or questionably legal practices deny many access to quality educational opportunities especially if the mobility of lower income persons is compromised.  I've seen this in the Long Island community where I grew up.  The school district lines were precisely drawn to benefit the upper middle class only.  These district lines effectively barred students from an adjoining community from attending a better-funded school. 

That's a new one on me.

Here in Pennsylvania, the school districts match the municipalities. I live in Radnor Township; any kid who lives in Radnor Township has the right to go to Radnor schools. Same for all the townships, boroughs, cities, etc. I know of in PA. Changing boundaries is effectively impossible.

What has happened in some places is that people will give false addresses to get their kids into a better school district. This practice goes back at least 50 years that I know of, and was not limited to poor people.


Some boys from less well performing districts were able to attend the Catholic school I attended.  The school has a sizable endowment and very low salary employees (brothers and priests get the minimum salary needed to receive Social Security.)  Hence many boys were able to escape bad districts and receive a good scholarship. 

The key word there is "some".     

In the old days, the public schools could simply ignore the needs of children with special needs, particularly if those needs involved significant costs. Those days are gone - which is a good thing, but it raises the price.



I completely agree.  My brother is developmentally disabled.  My parents fought very hard for his educational accommodation and eventual residence in a group home.  It was a long, hard, and often discouraging slog.  He is now well taken care of and reasonably happy.  That is all we can expect in life (and perhaps salvation/enlightenment/Xenu).  My parents were able to do all of this without lodging lawsuits against the school district. 

That's great, but not all school districts will cooperate as well. Some need to be forced by the courts, or the threat of court.
And some parents simply expect too much.
 

Retaliatory lawsuits serve no one in a community.  Students suffer from teacher embroilment in litigation. Skilled administrators and teachers are sometimes dismissed for reasons unrelated to their personal or professional conduct.   Finally, taxpayers are left to pay for legal fees that could have been directed towards the improvement of all students' education.  In this particular peanut allergy case, the school district made every attempt to protect the student from peanut contamination.  The student was permitted to eat separately from other students and store her lunch in the nurse's office.  I believe that the rift began when the parents requested an unusual accommodation (such as a late and variable arrival at school).  The district refused this request, and the parents sued almost every employee in the school. 

There is a difference between advocacy and tort as intimidation.  I refuse to believe that the accommodation of the disabled and allergic must take place under the threat of subpoena.
 

It all depends on the situation. Sometimes the parents are right, sometimes the school is right, sometimes both, sometimes neither.

Remember that much of the changes from the old days came about because of lawsuits.

Also recall that there are often other forces at work.

For example, a school board may consist of some folks who were elected on a don't-raise-taxes-no-matter-what platform. They see a big special-ed budget and try to cut it down by ordering their administrators to deny services. The administrators try to change their minds, but every administrator serves at the pleasure of the school board - and can be replaced. Usually an administrator who resists *is* replaced by one who agrees with the board members.

It becomes a matter of principle for the school board, through their administrators, to deny as many services as possible

Eventually the deny-services school board encounters a parent who won't back down, and the whole thing winds up in court, and costs the taxpayers more than the services would have cost in the first place.

But meanwhile the board members are reelected and can claim they fought for savings at every opportunity.

The reverse happens too, and probably just as often: the unreasonable parents lawyer up and demand the sun, moon and stars. And sometimes they win.

It all depends on the situation.

73 de Jim, N2EY



Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K7KBN on October 22, 2010, 09:07:42 PM
I was a ham for about four years before my active Navy duty began.  That helped me quite a bit going through school and even more once I got to the fleet.  On my first cruise to WESTPAC, with the flag on board and the extra traffic that entailed, over 80 percent of our outgoing traffic was on CW.  Things were fine when the HF link held up, but when it started to fade, or when the bad guys started jamming the secure stuff, CW always made it.  Even on my second WESTPAC, more than 50 percent of the outgoing traffic had to be with CW.  No satellites; no computers.  Just old-school radio, with operators who knew how to communicate.

If you don't mind me asking - when was this? I'm not disputing your story, just want to put some dates on it.

No, radio isn't synonymous with Morse code -- but CW is a PART of radio.  Always has been; always will be

Well said!

73 es TNX de Jim, N2EY

Hi Jim.  The first WESTPAC was 1963-64.  The second was 1965-66.  Also, during that first cruise, one of my duties was to keep commercial press news tuned in (UPI/AP/Reuters) so the ship would have world news in "near" real time.  I was the first person on the Kitty Hawk to know that JFK had been shot.  And no, that didn't come in via CW - it was from a commercial press transmitter in Hawaii.  RTTY.  Hand typed by somebody who was obviously very shaken by the event.

73
Pat K7KBN


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on October 23, 2010, 11:21:58 AM
The first WESTPAC was 1963-64.  The second was 1965-66.  Also, during that first cruise, one of my duties was to keep commercial press news tuned in (UPI/AP/Reuters) so the ship would have world news in "near" real time.  I was the first person on the Kitty Hawk to know that JFK had been shot.  And no, that didn't come in via CW - it was from a commercial press transmitter in Hawaii.  RTTY.  Hand typed by somebody who was obviously very shaken by the event.

Hello Pat,

Wow - and thanks for the piece of history!

According to Wikipedia, Kitty Hawk was built across the river from here in Camden NJ, and was almost new when you did those cruises. A nearly new USN supercarrier using CW on the air in major communications roles...that says a lot.

Kitty Hawk was decommissioned last year, and holds the record as second-longest serving ship in the Navy.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K7KBN on October 23, 2010, 01:58:43 PM
I was on board for the deactivation ceremony, and also for the decommissioning.  All of that was done right here in Bremerton.

Yes, she was a pretty new ship in 1963.  When I went aboard she had just arrived in San Diego after her very first WESTPAC.  I was in RM school while she was getting the little problems squared away.

Several years ago, just before Kitty Hawk departed CONUS for Japan (where she was homeported until about 2 years ago), I was part of a crew assigned to design various changes to make her a bit more environmentally friendly.  I finished my work one day and went up to Radio Central where I introduced myself.  I must have spent two hours describing how radio worked back in the 60s!  The Communications Officer was there, and several chiefs, none of whom had ever had occasion to use point-to-point HF.  I had to keep reminding them that we didn't HAVE any satellites at that time!

I even got to put my feet right where they were when I was reading the news about JFK.


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on October 23, 2010, 03:49:38 PM
To K7KBN:

Great history. Particularly the part about JFK. I've yet to meet an American over a certain age who doesn't remember that day clearly.

IIRC, CV-63 went into service in 1961 or so, which means she was still very new when you went aboard.

You mention RM school...perhaps you can verify something for me. (Hope I haven't asked this before).

I've read that in 1958 one of the requirements of Radioman "A" school was a code copying test. The test was 24 wpm coded groups, copied on a mill. Passing grade was no more than 3 uncorrected errors in 1 hour.

That's the story, anyway - was it really that way? If so, kinda puts the ham code tests in perspective.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K7KBN on October 23, 2010, 04:55:13 PM
In 1963, the requirement for RM"A"-school graduation was 22 WPM Plain Language and 24 WPM coded groups.  I don't recall testing for a solid hour, though.

To be honest, on my very first day sitting at a "mill" with blank key caps, our class instructor J.J.Jones (honest!) RM1 (SS), USN, told us that we'd be hearing some "really fast code" and to ignore it.  A few seconds later, I heard "DOUBLE BASIC REEL NR 1" at about 16 WPM.  This didn't seem like "really fast code", so I typed it.  Next thing I knew, Mister Jones was standing in front of me,  bent forward far enough that he was reading what I'd typed, upside down.

He said, "Seems you've copied code before, Bailey."  I said that I'd been using code for about 4 years.  He sent me to the back of the classroom and patched in 28 WPM to my phones.  Problem was, I couldn't type that fast so I used a pencil and copied solid for about five minutes before Mister Jones realized my mill wasn't making any clickity-clack sounds.  He checked my copy, told me I'd qualified in the Code requirements for A-school, and took me upstairs to Code Control.  There I worked with a great RMC, Chief Zelina, putting the various code tapes on the Boehme keyers, patching the required speeds to the various classrooms, and working on my typing skills.  There were at least five or six of us typing-challenged students in Code Control at any given time of day, and yes, we were all hams!

Great times!

Pat K7KBN


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on October 23, 2010, 05:45:57 PM
Over at Misc I will start a thread on "Morse Code as Language" if Pat, Jim, or anyone reading this thread is interested.  For certain reasons I don't think it's a good idea to have this discussion on this thread.  

73, Jordan


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on October 23, 2010, 05:56:16 PM
In 1963, the requirement for RM"A"-school graduation was 22 WPM Plain Language and 24 WPM coded groups.  I don't recall testing for a solid hour, though.

To be honest, on my very first day sitting at a "mill" with blank key caps, our class instructor J.J.Jones (honest!) RM1 (SS), USN, told us that we'd be hearing some "really fast code" and to ignore it.  A few seconds later, I heard "DOUBLE BASIC REEL NR 1" at about 16 WPM.  This didn't seem like "really fast code", so I typed it.  Next thing I knew, Mister Jones was standing in front of me,  bent forward far enough that he was reading what I'd typed, upside down.

He said, "Seems you've copied code before, Bailey."  I said that I'd been using code for about 4 years.  He sent me to the back of the classroom and patched in 28 WPM to my phones.  Problem was, I couldn't type that fast so I used a pencil and copied solid for about five minutes before Mister Jones realized my mill wasn't making any clickity-clack sounds.  He checked my copy, told me I'd qualified in the Code requirements for A-school, and took me upstairs to Code Control.  There I worked with a great RMC, Chief Zelina, putting the various code tapes on the Boehme keyers, patching the required speeds to the various classrooms, and working on my typing skills.  There were at least five or six of us typing-challenged students in Code Control at any given time of day, and yes, we were all hams!

Great times!

HAW! GREAT STORY! Thanks for that one! And for the confirmation of at least part of the RM code tests.

I had a somewhat-related experience at the FCC office in 1970. Not the same, of course, but in case you haven't seen this:

Back then the Extra required 20 wpm code, send and receive (just plain language, of course), the written exam, and an Advanced license or the tests required for the Advanced. You also needed at least 2 years as a Conditional, General or Advanced - Novice and Technician experience didn't count.

There was also a rule that if you failed a test you could not retest for at least 30 days.

In those days Extras made up less than 2% of US hams, and most Extras were old-timers with years of experience. Often they had military and/or commercial radio operating backgrounds too. Teenage Extras did exist, but they were few and far between.

I got the Advanced in the summer of 1968 (whole 'nother story) and figured out exactly when I'd have the 2 years' experience. I was at the Philly FCC office for the Extra exam at the first test session after the 2 years. The exam sessions were on weekday mornings, so a teenager in school had only a few opportunities per year. (No kid in his right mind would even consider skipping school to go to the FCC office)

The FCC Examiner was an old-school kind of G-man - white shirt, narrow dark tie, wing tips, glasses with black frames, hair combed straight back. His name was Joe Welsh but was known as Joe Squelch (but never to his face!) by the locals, because of his absolutely-no-nonsense demeanor.

The FCC office was on the 10th floor of the old Custom House at 2nd & Chestnut, and in those days was not air-conditioned. Which just made it more of a sporting course during a Philadelphia summer.

The office consisted of a waiting room, some private offices, and the exam room. The exam room had a row of office desks for the examiner and his assistant, with file cabinets behind them for the official test documents. There was a code test table with chairs and rows of student desks for those taking the writtens. The exam room was separated from the waiting room by a floor-to-ceiling glass partition, and the windows of the exam room looked out over the river towards Camden.

The usual sequence was to do the code tests first, and then the writtens, because you had to pass both at the same session to upgrade in those pre-CSCE days.

The exam sessions started at 8 AM and by 7:59 it was full of people waiting to take the various tests, both amateur and commercial. At 16 I was by far the youngest person in the room.

At exactly 8 AM the FCC Examiner appeared and asked if there was anyone there for the Extra test. One hand went up - mine.

"Follow me" was all The Examiner said.

He unlocked the door to the exam room and we went inside. He pointed to a chair at the code test table and I sat down. He asked to see my Form 610 and existing license, which were all clipped together along with the fee.

They were all in order so he unlocked a file cabinet and brought out a code machine, cans, yellow legal pad and #2 pencils. The code machine was the kind that used punched paper tape, with speed changed by using different diameter drive spindles.

He set everything up and pushed a pair of cans, a pad and pencil towards me and gave the following instructions:

"The code receiving test is 5 minutes long. You need at least 1 minute of legible correct copy to pass. That's one hundred characters.

Copy exactly what you hear. When the code stops, put the pencil DOWN and move away from the paper. Otherwise you fail. Do you understand these instructions?"

I managed to say "Yes".

He then asked "Ready?"

I just nodded.

I put on the cans and he turned on the code machine. The code came roaring out of them; no problem hearing it!

I started copying in big block letters. After a line or two I realized I was getting every letter, and began to relax.

Meanwhile The Examiner walked around the exam room, peered out the window, and then came over and watched me copy. He came around the table, bent over and looked over my shoulder as I copied.

Then he went to the code machine, studied it for a second, and then switched it off!

I was stunned - less than two minutes had passed! Had I messed up something and had already failed? I'd never heard of the test going short unless there was a problem.

"That was pretty easy, huh, kid?" asked The Examiner.

"Uh - I guess so..." was all I could manage.

"It should be" he replied. "That was 13 words per minute. Here's 20"

And he quickly swapped drive spindles and restarted the machine. Much faster code now came out of the cans.

This time the test lasted the full 5 minutes. (Yes, I passed).

The came sending 20 per with the straight key, which was easy because I'd been using a straight key ever since I got the Novice three years earlier. Then the written, which came from a different locked file cabinet.

And then the ride home to wait for the license to arrive.

Did The Examiner just forget to change the drive spindle? Did he want to see if I could copy 13 before bothering to try 20? Was he trying to rattle me? I'll never know.

Doesn't seem like 40 years ago.

---

If you haven't heard it, Jean Sheperd, K2ORS, did a great piece on his experience in Army code school. Hilarious. Will post a link if you want.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on October 23, 2010, 06:01:28 PM
Over at Misc I will start a thread on "Morse Code as Language" if Pat, Jim, or anyone reading this thread is interested.  For certain reasons I don't think it's a good idea to have this discussion on this thread.  

I'm interested. But I suggest the CW forum.

btw, you mentioned the German educational system. Check out the kind of manufacturing facilities they have:

http://www.flixxy.com/high-tech-car-factory.htm

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N9KX on October 23, 2010, 06:02:27 PM
Pat,

Thank you very much for sharing some of your early code experiences, for me -- it is some of the most enjoyable reading I have found in any forum.  I learned code in early 1976 at age 13 through tapes sent to me by my uncle.  I remember the initial resistance to learning Morse I felt because it was going to take some time and work, but fortunately I was young enough to still be pretty open to learning new tricks.  The code requirement and the fact that one had to get up to speed to get HF phone privileges sort of inclined one to look at code as work rather than fun. Isn't life strange?  After becoming somewhat code saavy and getting an Advanced, I eventually realized life had turned the tables on my preconceptions and that code is more fun than voice communication.  

Thanks again for your contributions to this discussion!  Very cool stuff hearing about J.J. Jones!


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on October 23, 2010, 06:09:14 PM
I'm interested. But I suggest the CW forum.

Yes, about to say.  CW forum it is.

73, Jordan


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N9KX on October 23, 2010, 06:12:09 PM
Did The Examiner just forget to change the drive spindle? Did he want to see if I could copy 13 before bothering to try 20? Was he trying to rattle me? I'll never know.

Or maybe Mr. Squelch was like a geode (no-nonsense exterior) and liked seeing a kid in there going for the Extra. He might have seen plenty of cases of nerves and figured copying 13 wpm would put you more at ease and loosen you up.  or -- maybe it was just a mishap and he caught it when he looked at the player...  I do remember when I took my 13wpm code test in downtown Chicago in 1977 at age 15 -- that it seemed to be much faster than 13wpm was at home.  (I was so tense that it made it a lot more difficult).  Being at ease sure seems to help performance...


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on October 23, 2010, 07:45:16 PM
Did The Examiner just forget to change the drive spindle? Did he want to see if I could copy 13 before bothering to try 20? Was he trying to rattle me? I'll never know.

Or maybe Mr. Squelch was like a geode (no-nonsense exterior) and liked seeing a kid in there going for the Extra. He might have seen plenty of cases of nerves and figured copying 13 wpm would put you more at ease and loosen you up.

Nope. Not a chance.

First off, he didn't do things to make the exam easier. Not for anyone. That way, nobody could say that someone else got a break they didn't get.

Second, he knew enough about the psychology of testing to know that hearing slow code and then fast code doesn't make it easier. Just the opposite, in fact. He also knew that the shock of having the test cut off like that would add to the stress level.

My best guess is that he just forgot to change the spindle, and realized it when he saw how slow I was writing.

In 1970 almost all of the code tests being given at that office were for ham tests, and almost all of them were 13 wpm. The 5 wpm test was for Novice and Technician, which were almost all done by-mail. Applicants for Extra were few and far between; the incentive licensing changes were only a year and a half old in the summer of 1970.

 or -- maybe it was just a mishap and he caught it when he looked at the player...  I do remember when I took my 13wpm code test in downtown Chicago in 1977 at age 15 -- that it seemed to be much faster than 13wpm was at home.  (I was so tense that it made it a lot more difficult).  Being at ease sure seems to help performance...

The first time I tried 13 wpm was at that same office two years earlier, when I was 14. I failed the first time because The Examiner couldn't read my Palmer Method longhand well enough to find the required 65 consecutive legible correct characters. (In those days you weren't allowed to go back and fix up your copy after the code stopped, and The Examiner would never ask you to read what you wrote. "Legible" meant "legible to the examiner without explanation".

So I went home and taught myself to block-print Signal Corps style at 30 wpm, and to copy 18 wpm W1AW bulletins solid from end to end. My second try at 13, later that summer, was no problem.

That fall I started high school.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N9KX on October 23, 2010, 08:46:54 PM
Did The Examiner just forget to change the drive spindle? Did he want to see if I could copy 13 before bothering to try 20? Was he trying to rattle me? I'll never know.

Or maybe Mr. Squelch was like a geode (no-nonsense exterior) and liked seeing a kid in there going for the Extra. He might have seen plenty of cases of nerves and figured copying 13 wpm would put you more at ease and loosen you up.

Nope. Not a chance.

First off, he didn't do things to make the exam easier. Not for anyone. That way, nobody could say that someone else got a break they didn't get.

I thought you said you were the only one in that room?  His reputation was for being a hardliner, so there was little chance he'd be accused of trying to make it easier for you -- besides, you had to pass the real 20wpm test subsequently anyway.  Not saying that was his motive as we cannot know if it was intentional or not, let alone whether he was trying to make it harder or easier.  All I know is that for me -- if I had been given 13wpm speed test while trying to pass a 20 wpm test, it would have calmed me down.  Then, when the real 20wpm test started I'd be challenged and motivated to fight to copy it and not in such a stressed state.

Second, he knew enough about the psychology of testing to know that hearing slow code and then fast code doesn't make it easier. Just the opposite, in fact. He also knew that the shock of having the test cut off like that would add to the stress level.
 

i think one can make a case either way as to which scenario puts one in better position.  For me, some of the intial spike of nerves would have passed, and I'd be in better shape to pass.  I'd have an 'aha' moment about why the test seemed so easy, and I be getting a do-over for the real McCoy.  For me it would put me in a much better position to be ready from the get-go.  For example -- after I passed my the 13wpm test and my written General exam, the examiner suggested I take the Advanced and I did but did not pass.  I came back a month later and passed fairly easily -- my nerves were not bad the second time because it was like getting a do-over without the 'unknown' factor.  Being 15 in an FCC office in downtown Chicago trying to get the same class ham license as my Electrical Engineer 70 year old uncle made it more intimidating than it would have been in a more comfortable setting.  It sounds like it mattered little though to you that Mr. Squelch decoyed you, since you could copy 30wpm and had been awaiting that moment for almost 2 years.  





Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K7KBN on October 23, 2010, 09:51:08 PM

The code machine was the kind that used punched paper tape, with speed changed by using different diameter drive spindles.

73 de Jim, N2EY

I clipped quite a bit from your post, Jim, but that's exactly the kind of machine the "Boehme (pronounced either BOH-mee or BAY-mee) Keyer" is/was.  Punched with holes resembling TTY tape but with a precise spacing that forced it to send perfect code at whatever speed the capstan dictated.  Our selection of capstans was from 10 to 45 WPM.  By the time students had been through Double Basic Reels #1 through #4, they were copying anywhere from 8 to 12 WPM, usually after about 10-14 days.  That was the alphabet, numbers, period, comma and "/".  Other punctuation came later.  Except - for some reason - the semicolon.

Sailors being sailors, after we'd leave a port in WESTPAC (Hong Kong, Sasebo, Yokosuka, Kobe or some other exotic spot), the Medical Department would start bringing messages to send, titled "VD Contact Reports".  If the subject was an officer, the message would be encrypted before being sent; enlisted men's were UNCLAS all the way.  The forms on which these were delivered to Radio Central were part of a brand-new Navy Medical Reporting System, and we were among the first to use it.

These reports had to be sent EXACTLY the way they were typed up, and the format involved the use of semicolons.  I had to do a bit of WAY pre-Google research to find out how to send that little ";", finally finding that it's just the reverse of a period:  (-.-.-.) .

Well, now I could SEND it, but the guy on the other end of the circuit had gone to the same school as I had, and hadn't been taught this particular punctuation mark, and more often than not I'd get interrupted by the shore station asking me to repeat.  The operating signal ZWC, meaning "The following is intended for the operator on watch only" was very rarely used by Radiomen, but I had to use it on several occasions to explain to the other operator just what was going on.  It worked!


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K7KBN on October 23, 2010, 10:03:07 PM
Pat,

Thank you very much for sharing some of your early code experiences, for me -- it is some of the most enjoyable reading I have found in any forum.  I learned code in early 1976 at age 13 through tapes sent to me by my uncle.  I remember the initial resistance to learning Morse I felt because it was going to take some time and work, but fortunately I was young enough to still be pretty open to learning new tricks.  The code requirement and the fact that one had to get up to speed to get HF phone privileges sort of inclined one to look at code as work rather than fun. Isn't life strange?  After becoming somewhat code saavy and getting an Advanced, I eventually realized life had turned the tables on my preconceptions and that code is more fun than voice communication.  

Thanks again for your contributions to this discussion!  Very cool stuff hearing about J.J. Jones!

Thanks for the flowers, Bob.

Sort of reminds me of my best friend during High School (and most of grade school as well).  Ron Earl, now W6TXK.  He and I got licensed as novices about the same time.  I was KN7KBN and he was KN7MER, there in Las Vegas.  We had one year to get our code speeds up to 13 WPM and my feeling was that I was going to get the 13 (and not one dit faster!), then throw my key as far as I could toss it and invest in a good microphone.

Ron, on the other hand, planned to keep on keeping on with code.

Funny how things work out.  He had a DX-100 with the SB-10 SSB converter, and liked phone operation so much he stayed with that end of things (he did keep his code speed up, though).  My DX-100 didn't have the SB-10, and mikes were a lot more expensive than the keys I had, so I decided I'd stick with CW.

Ron moved to Southern California shortly after we graduated, and FCC being what it was at the time, had to get a W6/K6 call.  To me, anyone with a W6 call has got to be REALLY old, and Ron is a few months YOUNGER than I! 

73 and thanks again!
Pat K7KBN


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on October 25, 2010, 12:09:47 PM
Are we done with NON-TOPIC chit-chat now?  Is it possible to get back to the TOPIC, which, if long memory still works, is Why Have An Extra Class?

A decade ago and before, there were two separate pass-fail tests that had to be passed in order to get an Amateur Extra class license upgrade from General class:
1.  A code cognition test at 20 WPM equivalent rate in International Morse Code.
2.  A written test of 50 multiple-choice questions, one of four answers for each.

Passing both of them meant a licensee could enjoy ALL American amateur radio privileges.

In May, 2000, FCC 99-412 went into effect and the maximum code test rate was capped a 5 WPM.  In February, 2007, FCC 06-178 went into effect and eliminated ALL code testing for any amateur
radio license class.  Note that May 2000 is over ten years ago and February 2007 is over 3 1/2 years ago.

There have been no changes in privileges allocated to USA amateur radio Amateur Extra class operating licensees in the last decade, compared to other license classes.

The logical question is then WHY have an Extra class at all?  That was the question posed by KD8HMO in the first posting in this Forum Topic.  The majority of respondents, nearly all being Extras themselves, "replied" without touching the legal part of regulations, lapsing into their own fond memories of their youth and the usual litany of "all amateurs should know morse code because it is so darn wonderful, gets through when nothing else will" but mainly because THEY are already in that license class.  It should be fairly obvious (except to them) that most of those Extras don't want to lose their rank, status, privilege and the entitlement they somehow feel they richly deserve (under old, old regulations).

The end result in this Forum Topic was an over-abundance of a combination of misdirection, obfuscation, and folksy chit-chat (more suited to a blog than any discussion of amateur radio license classes).  It reached a nadir with N2EY's rationalization that "the Extra should be kept because it
is so POPULAR!"  FWITW, as of this morning's stats (25 Oct 10) the total number of Technician class license grants represented 49.2% of ALL USA amateur radio licnese grants and the total number of Amateur Extras was only 17.2%.  Technician class outnumbers Extra by 2.85:1 and outnumbers General by 2.22:1.  "Popularity?"  I don't think so...just some clever weasel-wording to rationalize having an Extra class license (since four decades ago).

Those who bitched about the elimination of the code test for a USA amateur radio license are way out of town.  You all had your chance FIVE YEARS AGO when NPRM 05-235 was open for Comment.  If you couldn't make your case for keeping the code test 5 years ago, you are just wasting time trying to bring it back NOW.

73, Len K6LHA (always a USA Amateur Extra class licensee)


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on October 25, 2010, 03:41:39 PM
Sort of reminds me of my best friend during High School (and most of grade school as well).  Ron Earl, now W6TXK.  He and I got licensed as novices about the same time.  I was KN7KBN and he was KN7MER, there in Las Vegas.  We had one year to get our code speeds up to 13 WPM and my feeling was that I was going to get the 13 (and not one dit faster!), then throw my key as far as I could toss it and invest in a good microphone.

Ron, on the other hand, planned to keep on keeping on with code.

Funny how things work out.  He had a DX-100 with the SB-10 SSB converter, and liked phone operation so much he stayed with that end of things (he did keep his code speed up, though).  My DX-100 didn't have the SB-10, and mikes were a lot more expensive than the keys I had, so I decided I'd stick with CW.

Ron moved to Southern California shortly after we graduated, and FCC being what it was at the time, had to get a W6/K6 call.  To me, anyone with a W6 call has got to be REALLY old, and Ron is a few months YOUNGER than I! 


Great story!

What got me really interested in ham radio was hearing roundtables on 75 meter AM on a homebrew 2 tube regenerative I built from reused parts. I determined to join those guys ASAP.

Which meant getting at least a General license.

So I got a Novice and worked toward upgrading. I had it pretty soft compared to pre-1967 Novices because mine was good for 2 years rather than 1, and the FCC office was just a walk/subway ride/walk away.

But by the time I had the Advanced in hand, I appreciated the advantages of CW enough to stay with it. Eventually got on 75 meter AM (NC-173, Viking 2/122 setup) but that was some years later.

CW was particularly advantageous for a kid without much radio money. I wound up homebrewing because I could build better than I could afford to buy. Here are links to a receiver I built in the early 1970s (it has since been dismantled for the parts):

http://www.qsl.net/k5bcq/Jim/SilverRX1.jpg
http://www.qsl.net/k5bcq/Jim/SilverRX2.jpg
http://www.qsl.net/k5bcq/Jim/SilverRX3.jpg
http://www.qsl.net/k5bcq/Jim/SilverRX4.jpg
http://www.qsl.net/k5bcq/Jim/SilverRX5.jpg
http://www.qsl.net/k5bcq/Jim/SilverRX6.jpg

Notice the homebrew dial...

Of course the license requirements have changed quite a bit over the years. For example, look at how the Extra has changed:

1951 to 1967: ~100 question written test, 20 wpm code tests (send and receive), 2 years experience as General, Conditional and/or Advanced. FCC examiners only. Advanced conveyed no additional test credit towards Extra, and Conditionals had to pass the General tests all over again before trying Extra.

In 1967, the Advanced was reopened to new issues and the Extra written split into two parts. The first part became the Advanced written, and the second part became the Extra written. So all Extras licensed in the 1967-2000 era had to first get the Advanced before trying Extra. The new exams were all multiple choice, too.

The 20 wpm code tests (send and receive) and 2 years experience as General, Conditional and/or Advanced stayed. FCC examiners only.

In the mid-1970s the experience requirement was reduced to 1 year and then eliminated. It was then possible to go from no license to Extra at a single test session by passing all the required tests.

In 1978 the sending code test was "waived", meaning the FCC assumed that if you could pass the receiving test you got credit for the sending test.

In 1984 the VEC system replaced FCC examiners.

In 1990 FCC created medical waivers for the 13 and 20 wpm code tests. Getting a waiver simply required a letter from any doctor. This effectively eliminated the need to pass any code test above 5 wpm if the person didn't want to, by simply getting a doctor to sign a form letter. No specific problem had to be identified; all that was required was a statement that the person would require more than typical time to learn the code at the higher speed. 5 wpm could not be waived because of the ITU-R treaty.

In 2000 the FCC closed the Advanced, Tech Plus and Novice to new issues, and reduced the code test requirement to 5 wpm for General and Extra. They also combined the written tests for Advanced (50 questions) and Extra (40 questions) into a single 50 question test. (Some folks forget that the changes of 2000 reduced the written testing even more than the code testing.)

And once again, having an Advanced conveyed no additional test credit.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on October 25, 2010, 07:36:23 PM
I clipped quite a bit from your post, Jim, but that's exactly the kind of machine the "Boehme (pronounced either BOH-mee or BAY-mee) Keyer" is/was.  Punched with holes resembling TTY tape but with a precise spacing that forced it to send perfect code at whatever speed the capstan dictated.  Our selection of capstans was from 10 to 45 WPM. 

This was a little thing, with a built-in oscillator. Quite new back then. But it used the same kind of tape you describe.

It was quite obvious that FCC took the whole procedure very seriously, with everything (including the machine, not just the tapes) locked up tight in special filing cabinets and only taken out for the actual tests.

Of course one big reason for all the secrecy was that there weren't that many different tapes and written tests. That was the reason for the 30 day wait to retest - if you could retest the same day, or even the same week, pretty soon you'd run through all their tests and get the same test again.


 By the time students had been through Double Basic Reels #1 through #4, they were copying anywhere from 8 to 12 WPM, usually after about 10-14 days.  That was the alphabet, numbers, period, comma and "/".  Other punctuation came later.  Except - for some reason - the semicolon.

Sailors being sailors, after we'd leave a port in WESTPAC (Hong Kong, Sasebo, Yokosuka, Kobe or some other exotic spot), the Medical Department would start bringing messages to send, titled "VD Contact Reports".  If the subject was an officer, the message would be encrypted before being sent; enlisted men's were UNCLAS all the way.  The forms on which these were delivered to Radio Central were part of a brand-new Navy Medical Reporting System, and we were among the first to use it.

These reports had to be sent EXACTLY the way they were typed up, and the format involved the use of semicolons.  I had to do a bit of WAY pre-Google research to find out how to send that little ";", finally finding that it's just the reverse of a period:  (-.-.-.) .

Well, now I could SEND it, but the guy on the other end of the circuit had gone to the same school as I had, and hadn't been taught this particular punctuation mark, and more often than not I'd get interrupted by the shore station asking me to repeat.  The operating signal ZWC, meaning "The following is intended for the operator on watch only" was very rarely used by Radiomen, but I had to use it on several occasions to explain to the other operator just what was going on.  It worked!

Another great story! Thanks again.

An historical question: It is my understanding that the various military branches gave new recruits various aptitude tests in order to find out who would be good at various tasks. And that one of those tests was about Morse Code. Those who scored highly on the test would be trained as Radiomen and those who didn't would get some other training.

Was that the case in the Navy when you were there? For recruits who didn't know the code already, that is.

---

In my case learning Morse Code was done by listening to hams on the air, using a rather simple receiver. One hand on the controls, the other on the pencil. Learned to send on a J-37 key and homebrew oscillator (still have the key).

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: W4VR on October 26, 2010, 10:19:33 AM
I asked myself the same question when I took the Extra exam in 1964.  No additional privileges over a General Class, and the questions were not easy as pie as they are today..code test was 20 wpm.  But, when they told me I could apply for a 1X2 call in 1976 I was happy to have the higher grade license.  But, you are right!  There are thousands of knuckleheads out there with Extra licenses; the only reason they passed the test is because they have good memories.  The FCC needs to come out with a higher grade license that requires more studying/learning and less memorizing....write out the solutions as I did in 1964.


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K7KBN on October 26, 2010, 10:52:53 AM
An historical question: It is my understanding that the various military branches gave new recruits various aptitude tests in order to find out who would be good at various tasks. And that one of those tests was about Morse Code. Those who scored highly on the test would be trained as Radiomen and those who didn't would get some other training.

Was that the case in the Navy when you were there? For recruits who didn't know the code already, that is.

73 de Jim, N2EY

Well, I was actually USNR my entire career, enlisted and officer.  When I was in boot camp in the summer of 1961, my whole company was USNR, mostly from the Training Center in Las Vegas, but we had about a dozen other reservists from other parts of the country.  The reserve companies went through the whole 9 weeks of boot camp, but we went back to our Training Centers when we graduated.  Based on testing and questioning, most of us were Seaman Apprentices when we graduated.  There were a few Airman Apprentices, Fireman Apprentices and Construction Apprentices mixed in.  It was up to us individually to decide what rating to pursue.  After high school and a year at "Nevada Southern University" (now UNLV), I decided to get my two-year active duty obligation out of the way so I put in a dual school request:  send me either to Electronics Technician (ET) school, OR to Radioman (RM) school.  ET school was in San Francisco (12th Naval District), and RM school was in San Diego (11th Naval District).  Since Las Vegas is also in the 11th ND, the Navy didn't have to transfer funds across districts.  So off to San Diego I went.

As far as code testing in boot camp, there wasn't any - at least as far as my company was concerned.


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AA4PB on October 26, 2010, 11:12:03 AM
There was a battery of tests, often given by the recruiter before you entered the service, as I recall (at least in the Navy). One of those was a Morse test where they determined how long it took you to learn a few characters, indicating an aptitude for Morse code. I also started in the reserves in high school and as I recall that testing was done at the reserve center before we saw any active duty. By the time I went to boot camp I was already a designated striker (meaning my specialty was already decided and I had some electronics training). By the time I went to A school (aviation electronics), after high school, I was already a third class petty officer (AT3). Reserves in high school really gave you a head start in those days (1960's).




Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on October 26, 2010, 01:00:18 PM
I asked myself the same question when I took the Extra exam in 1964.
What answer did you get?  Hint: 1964 was 46 years ago.

Quote
No additional privileges over a General Class, and the questions were not easy as pie as they are today..code test was 20 wpm.
Hint: All code testing for any USA amateur radio license was eliminated 3 1/2 years ago.

"Easy as pie"?  :D

I took and passed all 120 questions on 25 February 2007 to achieve Amateur Extra. Almost on the 51st anniversary of achieving my First Class Radiotelephone (Commercial) linense in one sitting in early 1956.  Having earned my living as an electronics circuits and system design engineer since 1960, I did not find the tests "difficult" but the NCVEC QPC did write a number of distractors in answer choices which required close scrutiny of possible choices.

Quote
But, when they told me I could apply for a 1X2 call in 1976 I was happy to have the higher grade license.
I'm sure...now you were a SOMEBODY and you could flaunt it on every ID.  :D

Hint: 1976 was 34 years ago. Lots of changes everywhere on everything since then.

Quote
But, you are right!
WHO is right?  [it helps to attribute who you are responding to in all Forums]

Quote
There are thousands of knuckleheads out there with Extra licenses; the only reason they passed the test is because they have good memories.
Thankyouverymuch your magnificence.  Let me throttle back on such ACCUSATORY language and just say that there are tens of thousands of "kunckleheads" who already had Amateur Extra class licenses before there was any privatization of radio operator licensing begun by the FCC.

Quote
The FCC needs to come out with a higher grade license that requires more studying/learning and less memorizing....write out the solutions as I did in 1964.

WHY?

Is amateur radio a guild, or craft, or union?  Is it really and truly a "vital part of national defense?" Or isn't it just a NON-PROFESSIONAL hobby?  By its regulatory title, it is definitely NOT a profession.

Hint: Privatizing of BOTH Commercial and Amateur radio operator licensing began a quarter-century ago.  It is illogical to expect that the FCC would change that just for the Amateur Extra class license.  Neither would they reinstate the code test, especially when the worldwide use of
"morse code" has been diminishing continually over the last half century.  In the last 5 years the FCC has granted only 99 Radiotelegraph Operator licenses, almost (but not quite) 20 per year on the average.

You could make your own case to the FCC in the form of a Petition to reinstate the code test. It would have to be a very good case presented in light of Memorandum Report and Order 06-178. 

Just because YOU had to "write out answers" long ago for YOUR amateur radio license is definitely not a good legal reason, nor a logical reason, just a personal comment of an oldster who likes to look down on "inferior" hobbyists who didn't test as YOU tested.

Do you wish me to draw diagrams and write answers for my AMATEUR test?  No sweat, I can do that since I've been doing that for a living in PROFESSIONAL electronics for a half century.  All you've explained so far is that "we" had to do things like "you" did and haven't explained WHY.

73, Len K6LHA
Amateur Extra with Vanity call, tested for the first time in amateur radio at age 74
Life Member IEEE
Former Associate Editor at Ham Radio Magazine
Volunteer US Army veteran 1952-1960 (ASN RA16408336)
Electronics hobbyist since 1947


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on October 26, 2010, 01:09:10 PM
buy. Here are links to a receiver I built in the early 1970s (it has since been dismantled for the parts):

http://www.qsl.net/k5bcq/Jim/SilverRX1.jpg
http://www.qsl.net/k5bcq/Jim/SilverRX2.jpg
http://www.qsl.net/k5bcq/Jim/SilverRX3.jpg
http://www.qsl.net/k5bcq/Jim/SilverRX4.jpg
http://www.qsl.net/k5bcq/Jim/SilverRX5.jpg
http://www.qsl.net/k5bcq/Jim/SilverRX6.jpg

Notice the homebrew dial...
Notice also that there's been NO SCHEMATIC given.  Those photos, at least 5 years old, are in Kees Talen's HBR section.  If this was a knock-off of one of the many HBRs - and it was a supposed transceiver - then it would be prudent to also publish a schematic of it.

K6LHA


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on October 26, 2010, 04:04:10 PM
The FCC needs to come out with a higher grade license that requires more studying/learning and less memorizing....write out the solutions as I did in 1964.

Good idea, but I doubt it has much of a chance.

Here's why:

About 1960-61 the FCC changed over to all-multiple-choice tests for all license classes. (The Novice had always been all-multiple-choice).

But the changeover did not happen on any given date. Instead, the old test materials were to be used until they ran out, and then the new tests implemented. The most common amateur written exam given was the Technician/General/Conditional, so it was used up pretty fast. How fast depended on where you went for the test.

OTOH there were very few who tired for the Extras, so those test materials took a long time to use up. They may even have been in use right up to 1967, when the Advanced was reopened to new issues and the old Extra written split into two tests.

You passed the Extra when the testing for it was probably at its highest levels. My hat is off to you!
 
Those old-style writtens involved drawing diagrams, writing short explanatory essays, solving problems where you had to show your work, and some multiple choice. The old ARRL License Manuals give a pretty good approximation of them - except the LMs have the answers!

FCC got rid of those old-style written exams for two reasons, both of which will almost certainly prevent them from coming back:

Reason 1 is that it takes a knowledgeable person to grade them.

Reason 2 is that the grading can be perceived as subjective on many questions. For example, if the question is "Explain the reason(s) for, and methods of, neutralizing an RF power amplifier in a transmitter", how much of an answer is enough? Will all examinees be graded the same way, or might there be some discrimination - even unconscious?

With multiple-choice, the grading is completely objective. Either the person picked the right answer or not, there's no judgement involved at all.

One way to make the tests better is to simply increase the size and variety of the question pools. That way, it becomes less work to learn the material than to learn the test. Anybody can submit proposed questions to the Question Pool Committee, and there's no upper limit to the size of the pools.

73 de Jim, N2EY

(btw, I got my Extra for three reasons:

First was to have all privileges
Second was that it was cheaper than building a 25 kc. calibrator to find all the subband-edges
Third was that I figured the FCC would only make the tests harder in the future, so I might as well get one while they were easy.

Oh well, 2 out of 3 isn't bad.

73 de Jim, N2EY





Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: W4VR on October 27, 2010, 12:58:21 PM
N2EY said "Reason 1 is that it takes a knowledgeable person to grade them."  You nailed it on the reason why we will never have difficult examinations ever again.  BTW, the exam I took in 1964 was what you described, a little bit of everything.  Back then they had FCC examiners who actually had engineering degrees grading your test.  Ron, W4VR


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on October 27, 2010, 05:31:14 PM
N2EY said "Reason 1 is that it takes a knowledgeable person to grade them."  You nailed it on the reason why we will never have difficult examinations ever again.  BTW, the exam I took in 1964 was what you described, a little bit of everything.  Back then they had FCC examiners who actually had engineering degrees grading your test.  Ron, W4VR
No sweat, your Ham Radio Job is assured and the Unions won't kick you out.  :D

On the other hand radio technology has been constantly increasing in the quarter century of privatized testing.  The technology has increased even more in the 46 years since your 1964 test.  Were you or the FCC prescient and could read the future?

73, Len K6LHA


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on October 28, 2010, 03:41:14 AM
N2EY said "Reason 1 is that it takes a knowledgeable person to grade them."  You nailed it on the reason why we will never have difficult examinations ever again.  BTW, the exam I took in 1964 was what you described, a little bit of everything.  Back then they had FCC examiners who actually had engineering degrees grading your test. 

I don't think it matters how difficult the tests are. What matters is what a person needs to know to pass them. Those two are not the same thing.

A big part of the reason for the change was to reduce cost. Think how much it would cost today to do license testing the way it was done in 1964 - the test fees would be very high.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K6LHA on October 30, 2010, 06:26:53 PM
N2EY said "Reason 1 is that it takes a knowledgeable person to grade them."  You nailed it on the reason why we will never have difficult examinations ever again.  BTW, the exam I took in 1964 was what you described, a little bit of everything.  Back then they had FCC examiners who actually had engineering degrees grading your test. 

I don't think it matters how difficult the tests are. What matters is what a person needs to know to pass them. Those two are not the same thing.]
That is a NON-answer or so poorly written that it is confusing.

If one reads this "answer" as-is then any knowledgeable person could pass just about any test.  :D

As to having "real engineers" doing testing, I will dispute that.  The majority of FCC duties and actions in 1964 or 1956 were LEGAL matters since the FCC's task in 1956 or 1964 were to regulate USA civil radio, the same as it is now.

For "real engineers" the FCC has those, concentrated in the Office of Engineering and Technology.  It is on their website, available from the home page. Note also that it is common for the FCC to invite public commentary on certain technical areas which are NOT taught in universities or colleges today.  "Real" (degreed) engineers would be taught anything not in a syllabus.

Quote
A big part of the reason for the change was to reduce cost. Think how much it would cost today to do license testing the way it was done in 1964 - the test fees would be very high.
Okay, How much did it cost for any radio operator license in 1964?

I don't remember what a test fee was in 1956 when I took and passed all the elements to get my First 'Phone.  The "expensive" part for me was a train ride into Chicago (90 miles, no personal auto yet), a hot dog from a street vendor after the test (plus another and a cup of coffee...was a cool day in early March), and - I think - a 50-cent ticket to see a matinee of the movie "Oklahoma" to wait for the train to depart back home.  :D

At my amateur test iin 2007 the test fee was $14.  Astronomical cost to a kid of 7 but a pittance to an adult.  :D


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: W0DV on November 08, 2010, 12:07:21 PM
Everyone take a very good look at this post I have quoted. Is this the sort of ham we want on the air? An angry disgruntled, disfunctional, insulting, whining little baby? This "ham has nothing positive to say or promote, only ugliness and discord. Not only shouldn't this individual be allowed on the air, he shouldn't be allowed to post his insulting remarks.

I was first licensed in 1994. Looked like a fun hobby so I took the written exam. Easy? sure, it was easy. I didn't know it was supposed to be hard or that at one time it was more difficult. I was ignorant of the "issues" that the minority of hams such as the one referenced to here, has raised. Then I started visiting the QRZ forums, and the Forums here on Eham, and wow, what rock did these malcontents crawl out from under? Then I think to myself, and am reasonably sure, that these few sad individuals have much greater problems in their life. The silliness and nonsense they spew here is only a symptom of the more important issues they have in their daily life with themselves, their family, and probably with most they have social interaction with.

Today, I am a 5 wpm Extra. I use my radio when I have time, and enjoy it very much. I don't care if you used the CB, are a no-code, or if you have no technical knowledge.
I suppose what helped me somewhat with the exams is the fact that I went to college and studied electronics back in the early 80's and I have experience as a technician in the field. But what is important as far as radio hobby is concerned is that we learn from one another and treat each other with respect, and above all, enjoy the hobby. If you can't, get out of the hobby because decent people don't want to hear or read the negativity.

The licensing system they have now is a JOKE. I will call a NO-CODER exactly what they are to their face. A CB'er with $15 and 15 minutes to memorize a few questions and answers. An Extra Class means NOTHING anymore. At least if you have an ADVANCED Class, one can be reasonably sure that you at least passed 13 wpm of code and most likely did it in front of the FCC and took a real test that you were not GIVEN the exact questions and ANSWERS to before hand, by such CRIMMINAL organizations such as the ARRL. The ARRL sold out ham radio to the big 3, YASEU KENWOOD AND ICOM. Here is the way it went. The Manufacturers says hey ARRL. "The FCC pretty well goes along with what you say. We need to sell some radio's and you YANKEE BOYS up there in Newington need the advertising money to keep all 100 of you employed. Now here is what you do. You petition the FCC to do away with the code requirement and at the same time get them to let you publish the EXACT QUESTIONS and ANSWERS that will be on a test to get a license. We will sell radio's and make plenty of money and we will buy all the advertising in your publications that you can handle and that will keep your sorry selves employed. Now we realize this will usher in a new era in ham radio, and create a bunch of DIGITAL BOY appliance operators, that do good to turn a radio on. They will have no technical knowledge, and the gateway license, the technician class will be prized by WEATHER WACKO'S throughout the country. Just get the FCC to go along with it. At the same time tell these CB'ers that they can now get on HF if they have $15 and 15 minutes to memorize a few simple questions and answers. Now we want you to create an army of SO CALLED VOLUNTEER EXAMINEERS to help us promote this conspiracy. Be sure they show up at ham fest and offer the test at least 3 times a day on Saturday and 3 times a day on Sunday. Have someone go down to channel 19 and tell all the CB'ers to bring $90 minimum to the ham fest, $15 per test session, if they don't pass it the first time, they can come back later in the day and take it again, all they got to do is be sure they memorize these questions and answers. We do publish them you know. Tell them that the test will be offered at 8 am 11 am and 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday. That $90 is in case they fail it all 6 times, but hey we want you to make the test so easy they can pass it the first time and only spend the $15.  These new hams can REQUEST A VANITY CALL and make it look like they have been a ham for a long time.  Forget the fact all you have to do is listen to them for 5 minutes with their terms such as, Whats that first personal, does it have any swing to it, it is DEAD KEYED, and my personal favorite, 10-4 good buddy."

Yes the ARRL SOLD us out. These new hams, are NOTHING but CB'ers with $15 and 15 minutes to memorize a few questions and answers.

Not only does an EXTRA CLASS mean nothing anymore, all of them mean nothing unless they actually passed a code test and a written test that they weren't given the EXACT Questions and ANSWERS to beforehand.

WA4ZVG

E


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: W0DV on November 08, 2010, 12:23:40 PM
I asked myself the same question when I took the Extra exam in 1964.  No additional privileges over a General Class, and the questions were not easy as pie as they are today..code test was 20 wpm.  But, when they told me I could apply for a 1X2 call in 1976 I was happy to have the higher grade license.  But, you are right!  There are thousands of knuckleheads out there with Extra licenses; the only reason they passed the test is because they have good memories.  The FCC needs to come out with a higher grade license that requires more studying/learning and less memorizing....write out the solutions as I did in 1964.

The Amateur Radio written exams have always been easy. They were easy in 1964 and they are easier today. No one had to go to college to be an Amateur Radio Op. No one had to graduate from High School. ANYONE could be an Amateur Radio OP if they had the interest and ambition to do so, code or no-code.
The reason why some cry about no-codes and CB'rs is because they have life issues that reach beyond ham radio discussion. Attacking others is just an outlet. Very painfully obvious.


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on November 09, 2010, 10:11:12 PM
My epitaph:

delictore exhibito attamen magister examen praestantissimum amateur radio concludit   

"A failed academic, but passed the Extra!"

Latin, for that extra snootiness and ego stroking.  Besides, isn't this thread about bragging about abilities and accomplishments that obscure inadequacies?

73, Jordan (who had mom drive him to the ham exams). 



Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on November 10, 2010, 03:26:59 AM
The Amateur Radio written exams have always been easy. They were easy in 1964 and they are easier today.

They were easy in 1964 if a person had a background in electronics and knew some things about amateur radio.

They weren't - and still aren't - easy if a person has to start from scratch without such a background.

But IMHO it doesn't matter how "easy" or "hard" the tests are, or were. What matters is what knowledge the tests require. 

No one had to go to college to be an Amateur Radio Op. No one had to graduate from High School. ANYONE could be an Amateur Radio OP if they had the interest and ambition to do so, code or no-code.

Not only that, but we've got Extras today who hadn't gotten through elementary school when they earned the license.

The reason why some cry about no-codes and CB'rs is because they have life issues that reach beyond ham radio discussion. Attacking others is just an outlet. Very painfully obvious.

The same can be said about those who cry about code tests and multiple license classes.

I looked back at the very first post in this thread, and what I saw is that the OP wants Generals and Advanceds to get full privileges without taking any more tests. Is that a good idea? I think not.

Is it wrong to be proud of one's accomplishments in amateur radio? Is it wrong to want to have some reasonable entry standards?

I think not.

If the 1964 tests were so easy, let's go back to that kind of testing. I could pass them all, right now, no practice or preparation needed. Or the 2010 tests.

How many others can make good on that claim?

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on November 10, 2010, 02:56:06 PM
Everyone take a very good look at this post I have quoted. Is this the sort of ham we want on the air? An angry disgruntled, disfunctional, insulting, whining little baby? This "ham has nothing positive to say or promote, only ugliness and discord. Not only shouldn't this individual be allowed on the air, he shouldn't be allowed to post his insulting remarks.

Do we want to have "angry, disgruntled, disfunctional, insulting, whining little" people in society?  There's no choice.  We do.  Let the maladjusted attend to themselves.  That includes me.  I suppose, though, that my problems are more histrionic and intellectually arrogant in nature.

Just keep keying away.  Don't worry about it.

73, Jordan


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on November 11, 2010, 02:58:22 AM
Everyone take a very good look at this post I have quoted. Is this the sort of ham we want on the air? An angry disgruntled, disfunctional, insulting, whining little baby? This "ham has nothing positive to say or promote, only ugliness and discord. Not only shouldn't this individual be allowed on the air, he shouldn't be allowed to post his insulting remarks.

Do we want to have "angry, disgruntled, disfunctional, insulting, whining little" people in society?  There's no choice.  We do. 

Yes, we have such people - on all sides of any issue.

But we don't have to encourage or accept their misbehavior.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: KB3LSR on November 11, 2010, 06:00:27 AM
Nearly three years after the FCC dropped Morse Code and it's still being debated?

Seems a lot like beating a dead horse with a stick.


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: W0DV on November 11, 2010, 09:37:40 AM

Quote from: N2EY
They were easy in 1964 if a person had a background in electronics and knew some things about amateur radio..

The written exams have never required a knowledge past that of basic electronics. As with any hobby one is interested in, some research is required. If one is truly interested in the hobby, and has done a little homework, they will find the written exams easy.  The code element on the other hand has always required much more effort.
 

Quote from: N2EY
Not only that, but we've got Extras today who hadn't gotten through elementary school when they earned the license.

Fantastic! When I hear young people on the air, I try to work them. It's always a pleasure. The future of Amateur Radio depends on them, and the rest of us, to mentor them.

Quote from: N2EY
I looked back at the very first post in this thread, and what I saw is that the OP wants Generals and Advanceds to get full privileges without taking any more tests. Is that a good idea? I think not.

I agree



Quote from: N2EY
Is it wrong to be proud of one's accomplishments in amateur radio? Is it wrong to want to have some reasonable entry standards?.

Of course not, lol

Quote from: N2EY
If the 1964 tests were so easy, let's go back to that kind of testing. I could pass them all, right now, no practice or preparation needed. Or the 2010 tests.
 

Again, the written exams have always been easy.  Some self education is required.
If my father-in-law passed the written General 40 years ago, anyone can :) He couldn't identify a resistor from a capacitor. He knows nothing of basic electronics, has never held a soldering iron, and has trouble with basic math. Where he excelled in was the code. He learned the code while he was in the airforce during the Korean War.  He was a radio op during the war. It isn't surprising that he can easily surpass 35 wpm.
He represents many older hams that run their mouth about how amateur Radio is being "dumbed down", or inundated with CB radio ops. He quit ham radio when the code was dropped, out of protest. Amateur Radio is a better place without him, or others like him, that hate those new fancy calculators and radio's. If ham radio were left to them, it would no longer exist for future generations to enjoy.
The Amateur Operators that I look up to are the ones that mentor, share their knowledge of the history of radio, their knowledge of electronic and antenna theory, and do so without a grudge, promoting the hobby in a positive way, and treating new recruits with respect if it is deserved.
Amateur Radio is a great hobby! I hope it is around for a long time for many to enjoy. The last thing it needs is a small group of braindead malcontents.


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on November 12, 2010, 04:07:58 AM
The written exams have never required a knowledge past that of basic electronics. As with any hobby one is interested in, some research is required. If one is truly interested in the hobby, and has done a little homework, they will find the written exams easy.

It all depends on how you define "a little homework" and "some research". For a person with no background in the field, it may take some time to get up to speed. This was even more true back in the days when the exact Q&A used on the exams weren't available to the general public.

The only really scientific way to know would be to take the tests of the past in the way they were given at the time. But we don't have the exact tests of, say, 1964, only the study guides for them. And the testing environment is completely different.

The code element on the other hand has always required much more effort.

Not at all. But there are differences:

1) Most people have no background in Morse Code and have to learn it from scratch.

2) Morse Code requires skills rather than "book learning". Some people are very good at learning rote stuff out of books but not so good at learning skills.

3) Some people have a "diva problem" in that they view having to learn certain things as being beneath them or not worth their time and effort. Older people have this more than younger when it comes to things like Morse Code. I think one reason is that they may be outclassed by others who are younger and/or whom they consider "inferior".

Fantastic! When I hear young people on the air, I try to work them. It's always a pleasure. The future of Amateur Radio depends on them, and the rest of us, to mentor them.

I do the same things.

However, sometimes the younger folks can mentor the older! I once had a CW QSO with an Extra who was still in elementary school - but you wouldn't know it until the op told you. Really good operating skills and abilities. A lot of older hams could learn from that ham!

Which of course is what bothers some folks. There has even been at least one proposal to FCC to set a minimum age limit of 14 for any US amateur radio license.

Quote from: N2EY
If the 1964 tests were so easy, let's go back to that kind of testing. I could pass them all, right now, no practice or preparation needed. Or the 2010 tests.
 


Again, the written exams have always been easy.  Some self education is required.

"Always" is a very long time.


If my father-in-law passed the written General 40 years ago, anyone can :) He couldn't identify a resistor from a capacitor. He knows nothing of basic electronics, has never held a soldering iron, and has trouble with basic math. Where he excelled in was the code. He learned the code while he was in the airforce during the Korean War.  He was a radio op during the war. It isn't surprising that he can easily surpass 35 wpm.

40 years ago was 1970. Did you know him then? People change.

I suspect the Air Force taught him more than the code, and that he retained enough of it to pass the General written.

The reason he could do 35 wpm was probably that he *used* those skills.

He represents many older hams that run their mouth about how amateur Radio is being "dumbed down", or inundated with CB radio ops.

No, he represents only himself.

There is a false dichotomy sometimes expressed which states that a person is either good at code or good at technical stuff but not both. While there are some people that are good at only one of those things, the two are not mutually exclusive.

He quit ham radio when the code was dropped, out of protest. Amateur Radio is a better place without him, or others like him, that hate those new fancy calculators and radio's.

Nose, face, old saying.

But not all, or even most, "older hams" think the way he does.
I got my license in 1967 and I don't.

If ham radio were left to them, it would no longer exist for future generations to enjoy.

Maybe.

But consider that over the decades there have been many changes in amateur radio that the doomsayers said would destroy it. And yet here we are today.

One I remember is the changes called "incentive licensing", which came into effect in 1968-69. They upped the ante for full privileges, and some folks said they would be the end of ham radio. Some still say it!

Yet the exact opposite happened. In the 1960s there was almost no growth in our numbers, while in the 1970s and 1980s the number of US hams more than doubled. The fastest growth happened when the exam requirements were the highest! And a lot of that growth was young people.

The Amateur Operators that I look up to are the ones that mentor, share their knowledge of the history of radio, their knowledge of electronic and antenna theory, and do so without a grudge, promoting the hobby in a positive way, and treating new recruits with respect if it is deserved.

Me too. But respect is a two-way street. And sometimes mentoring/elmering requires making someone learn how to fish. Learned helplessness must be avoided.

Amateur Radio is a great hobby! I hope it is around for a long time for many to enjoy. The last thing it needs is a small group of braindead malcontents.

Yes, it's great - and it's more than a hobby. But its survival depends most on people actually doing it.

As for "braindead malcontents", they have always existed, and on all sides of an issue.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: AB2T on November 12, 2010, 08:28:46 AM
3) Some people have a "diva problem" in that they view having to learn certain things as being beneath them or not worth their time and effort. Older people have this more than younger when it comes to things like Morse Code. I think one reason is that they may be outclassed by others who are younger and/or whom they consider "inferior".

When you say "diva", I think of Marie Antoinette or beehive hairdos, not prideful adults.  Perhaps "inadequate people" instead?   

I've never met anyone who thought that learning the code was beneath them.  I've met long time Technician hams (i.e. charter no-code licensees) who were very active in ham radio before 2007 but did not upgrade because "they just couldn't learn that code".  That's a different issue than pride or veiled inadequacy.  That's an honest admission of fear or phobia, not "diva".

Which of course is what bothers some folks. There has even been at least one proposal to FCC to set a minimum age limit of 14 for any US amateur radio license.

Some countries had a minimum age requirement. Sweden did for many years. One had to be 14 to earn the introductory license.  This was repealed.  There's no gain in limiting hams by age.  I wasn't a very skilled ham at 13.  Still, I made up for it with good intentions.

73, Jordan


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: W3HF on November 12, 2010, 09:21:00 AM
Some countries had a minimum age requirement.

Some still do. IIRC, in China it's 18. When we visited there last summer (2009) and met with some local hams, they were surprised that my son (KB3JJV) was even licensed at all; he was still only 15. They were even more amazed that he had been first licensed when he was 9.


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: K7VV on November 13, 2010, 10:18:01 PM
Ah, let's go back to the pre-war Class A and Class B type tickets.
Class B:  All CW, plus phone on 160 and 80 ONLY.
Class A:  All CW, plus all phone bands.
(i.e., no Tech License.  Ya gotta be Class A to get 2 meters on PHONE, but CW's ok.  Ya gotta have a Class A to get phone on any band other than 160 and 80.  Basically a beginners license and a 'full' license. 


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on November 14, 2010, 04:56:36 AM
Ah, let's go back to the pre-war Class A and Class B type tickets.
Class B:  All CW, plus phone on 160 and 80 ONLY.
Class A:  All CW, plus all phone bands.

Except that's not how it was back then.

Before WW2 the US ham bands were 160, 80, 40, 20, 10, 5, 2-1/2 and 1-1/4 meters. And that was all. The 'phone subbands were narrower than today and 40 was all CW - no phone subband at all.

Before the restructuring of 1951, Class B hams had all CW plus phone on 160, 10, 5, 2-1/2 and 1-1/4. The only things Class B could not do was operate 'phone on 75 or 20 meters.

Class A had all privileges.

There was also Class C, which was the same as Class B (not Class A!) but the exam was by-mail.

And although Class C gave the same privileges and had the same tests as Class B, it came with special requirements. You could only get a Class C if you lived more than a certain distance from an FCC exam point, or were disabled to the point that you couldn't get to an FCC exam session.

But if you moved within the required distance of an FCC exam point, or recovered from the health problem, you had 90 days to appear at an FCC exam session or lose your license.

In addition, the Class C carried no credit towards Class A. If a Class C wanted a Class A license, s/he had to travel to an FCC exam session *and* retake and pass the Class B tests. (Special arrangements were made for disabled hams).

Thanks to N3DF for the correction.

73 de Jim, N2EY  


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: FORMER_K0PD on November 17, 2010, 06:52:27 PM
I guess we could just go to Amateur License Grade i,2 or three. But i'm pretty darn proud i at least had to be able to copy 20 WPM when i got mine but your right in some ways...


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N2EY on November 18, 2010, 07:46:14 PM
I guess we could just go to Amateur License Grade i,2 or three.

But that's what we have now!

Technician is the entry level
General is the middle level
Extra is the top level.

Tech Pluses are all gone - expired, upgraded or converted to Tech Plus. Novices and Advanceds are slowly disappearing by attrition, and now make up only about 10% of US hams.

What's wrong with a three-level system?

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: RE: Why Have An Extra Class?
Post by: N3DF on November 19, 2010, 07:42:47 AM




Class A had all privileges.

There was also Class C, which was the same as Class A but the exam was by-mail.

73 de Jim, N2EY
[/quote]

I think you meant to say Class C was the same as Class B but the exam was by mail.