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Author Topic: Why Have An Extra Class?  (Read 261064 times)
K6LHA
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Posts: 349




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« Reply #165 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."  Cheesy

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
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AB2T
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« Reply #166 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  
« Last Edit: September 24, 2010, 05:16:50 PM by Jordan » Logged
N2EY
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« Reply #167 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
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AB2T
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« Reply #168 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). Roll Eyes  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

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N2EY
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« Reply #169 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). Roll Eyes  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
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K6LHA
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« Reply #170 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.  Cheesy

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!  Cheesy

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
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« Reply #171 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
« Last Edit: September 26, 2010, 12:39:02 PM by Keith Baker » Logged
NO6L
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« Reply #172 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

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« Reply #173 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.
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« Reply #174 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.  Roll Eyes  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.  Huh  Wink   
 
73, Jordan
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N2EY
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« Reply #175 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
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« Reply #176 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.  Huh  Wink   


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
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« Reply #177 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.  Cheesy

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.

Quote
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.  Cheesy

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.  Cheesy

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. 

Quote
  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."

Quote
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)
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« Reply #178 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.  Angry  

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  
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« Reply #179 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
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