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12. How to make better ham radio rules?

2003-10-26

Notice: Gentle folks, here I am going to discuss some rules'n'regulations issues that we, radio amateurs, face to every day. These problems make rather significant obstacles for this nice alternative way of communication to be more developed and more widely used.

First of all, anybody who might be interested in running Linux amateur radio software, as a way of using radio amateur stations on the international HF waves, in a digital manner, has to learn manual analog Morse telegraphy and pass the similar manual Morse skill test. For a long time now, I have been trying to explain myself, why manual Morse telegraphy is still being kept as the legal requirement without an amateur is not allowed to use HF radio frequencies under 30 MHz, in order to contact Linux and other remaining digital radio amateurs world-wide. I still have no answer to that question, except that all of those who have wasted lots of time learning Morse, now don't want to allow newcomers to use the same capabilities - but without the same (useless) test!

You all know, there are so many Linux enthusiasts world-wide (including myself) who have been fighting against all types of monopols (like a company from Redmond, USA). The Morse obligatory test is the same: just another type of a monopoly!

That's why I have been trying to persuade all relevant authorities to remove such outdated regulatory principles, that make more and more obstacles for not only Linux users, but for other kinds of computer users - when it comes to the modern ICT technologies. I hope, all of you, readers of this mini-HOWTO, can understand now what does it mean to use outdated rules and regulations endlessly . For example, I often contact various people from the academic world, either students or scientists, in order to motivate them to join amateur radio wireless activities. They mostly refuse to think about the amateur (also called "ham") radio, as soon as they hear they have to pass the Morse test, as the legal requirement before they become allowed to connect to remote computing radio users world-wide, using the HF radio bands and devices.

What I am sure, the absence of those high educated people within the digital ham radio is one of the most negative consequences in the ICT areas today!

I have been thinking what to do since the early ninetees, when I was the secretary of YU7 (Vojvodina province in Serbia) amateur radio union. It seemed to me that it was a very hard task to persuade the people who govern the amateur radio organizations, to remove such outdated rule. When I realized that removing the mandatory manual Morse test seemed to be almost impossible to be expected in a short period of time, I decided to suggest the implementation of another regulatory principle. It should be a major innovation: To make a new type of the amateur radio license, a Ham Digital Licence (the HDL in short). The HDL licensees would be allowed to use all amateur radio frequencies, including all international HF bands under 30 MHz. But, they rather should be allowed to use only digital sub-bands and types of the amateur radio emissions a.k.a. "modes", including the usage of computers, equipped with the LinFBB packet radio software. Besides that, the HDL holders may only use modified and/or dedicated radio transmitters, without the capability for both voice microphone and Morse key connections, in order to avoid possible misuse of unwanted amateur activities (like voice SSB operations).

All HDL candidates should have to learn topics like computer hardware and software in general (operating systems and system software configuration, amateur radio software setup etc), connecting the amateur radio stations to the computers (connecting radio modems to the transmitters etc), building simple antennas (like 1/2 wave wire dipole for 20m that I used long ago), the English language (or German etc) in the written exam etc. The Morse requirement would not be used anymore, as well as some other obsolete tests, like highly complicated radio circuits or skills needed for building home-brew radios from the scratch (instead of buying modern factory manufactured devices). Of course, the regulatory issues should also be tested (like band plans - in particular recognizing the sub-bands dedicated for digital ham radio). Next are RFI issues and how to avoid them etc.

I believe that amateur radio digital activities have their future only if we all do our best to improve the regulatory principles that govern this fine hobby. You should also know that, besides the telegraphy skill requirement for an HF access, here in Serbia we have some further restrictions: we all have to be the members of the national amateur radio unions (SRV union in YU7 province and SRS union in Serbia in whole), as the legal requirement, before we become allowed to use any type of the amateur radio activities. Such a nonsense does not exist elsewhere!

Should you want help us to adopt internationally known principles, that do NOT require to join any type of the amateur radio organizational system, i.e. the amateur radio society (that only wants to get our membership money), you are invited to lobby for us. Our conservative amateur society leadership also has their email address: yu0srj@eunet.yu (I suppose they may have more than one email address, but you may try to use this one). You may also use an Internet search engine and scan for information related to "Savez radio amatera Jugoslavije" and "Savez radio amatera Srbije". Your help would be highly appreciated. Case you need more info regarding our national legal issues, do not hesitate to contact me.

If you find yourself interested enough in making amateur radio rules and regulations better and more updated (say to spread the idea of liberalize the whole ICT areas and make them free of any kind of monopols), I would suggest you to look for your national radio amateur society and/or national telecommunication regulatory agency (like FCC in the USA). Lobby to them in order to remove the obsolete manual Morse proficiency test. In addition, should you have some opportunities to attend to some ICT meetings and conferences or something like that, you are also invited to let me know.

Case we all do our best to remove obstacles mentioned above and allow the new people, who may wish to enjoy the amateur radio digital and Linux-related operations, to do so, the technology would become the part of more homes. I hope you, the readers, may help. So I look forward to hear from you soon!


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