Tag Archives: FCC

ARRL seeks clarification: Amended Amateur Service RF Safety Rules

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Evans (W4/VP9KF), who has been following the progress of new FCC RF exposure rules and writes:

“The ARRL has finally read the new RF Exposure rules and agrees with my thoughts that they are going to make quite a difference in the way the FCC sees amateur radio levels.”

(Source: ARRL News)

ARRL Seeks Clarification of Amended Amateur Service RF Safety Rules

ARRL has filed a Petition for Clarification addressing two issues arising from amended FCC RF safety rules that go into effect on June 1 for the Amateur Service and other FCC-regulated services. Licensees will have 2 years to determine if an RF safety evaluation is now required under the new rules and to perform an evaluation and implement any needed mitigation measures. Current rules already require amateur stations to meet RF exposure limits, but more radio amateurs will have to evaluate their stations under the new rules. The revised final rules, adopted last November, appeared in the April 1 edition of The Federal Register.

“For applicants and licensees in the Amateur Radio Service, we substitute our general exemption criteria for the specific exemption from routine evaluation based on power alone in §97.13(c)(1) and specify the use of occupational/controlled limits for amateurs where appropriate,” the FCC said. While radio amateurs have always had to comply with RF exposure limits, certain stations have been exempted from having to conduct evaluations based upon power and frequency.

On May 8, ARRL asked the FCC to clarify that using maximum permissible exposure (MPE) limits be permitted in the Amateur Service for required RF safety evaluations of 2200-meter operations, just as they are elsewhere in the amateur spectrum. Removal of the exemption for amateurs resulted in a requirement to use specific absorption rate (SAR) limits for amateur frequencies between 100 and 300 kHz.

“SAR evaluations are very complex to directly measure and, we believe, generally exceed the capability of most individual amateur operators,” ARRL argued in its petition, asserting that MPE limits correspond to conservative estimates of SAR.[…]

Continue reading the full article here.

Paul adds:

“You’ll note that they too were clearly caught out by there being no comment period as stated in December 2019, but the FINAL ruling appeared out of the blue in the Federal Register on April 1, 2020, which took me by surprise (having checked every day for over 90 days!).”

Thank you for following and sharing this development, Paul!

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Radio Waves: FCC Wipes Out Engineering Division, Last Nazi Message Decoded, Remembering Ronan O’Rahilly, and French Radio Society Free Publications

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Mike, Eric McFadden, and Paul Evans, and for the following tips:


FCC Eliminates Its Own Engineering Division (Radio World)

The Federal Communications Commission has elected to eliminate the Engineering Division at the organization in an effort to, as it says, “streamline the organization of the Media Bureau” as part of the public interest.

The commission plans to fold the work of the Engineering Division into the Media Bureau’s Industry Analysis Division (IAD) due to changes in the duties of the Engineering Division.

“By incorporating the work and staff of the Engineering Division into IAD, we can better ensure that the bureau’s technical expertise is integrated more fully into the bureau’s adjudicatory matters and policy proceedings,” the commission announced on April 29.

Back in 2002, the Engineering Division was established to conduct technical reviews of media-related matters, including overseeing technical compliance of TV and radio broadcast licenses, as well as things like cable regulatory filings and license transfers. But as the industry transitioned from analog to digital and from paper to electronic filing, the Engineering Division’s tasks have diminished.[]

Last Nazi message intercepted by Bletchley Park revealed (BBC News)

The last German military communications decoded at Bletchley Park in World War Two have been revealed to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

They were broadcast on 7 May 1945 by a military radio network making its final stand in Cuxhaven on Germany’s North Sea coast.

The message reports the arrival of British troops and ends: “Closing down for ever – all the best – goodbye.”

After Germany surrendered, VE Day was declared the next day.

In 1944, this German military radio network, codenamed BROWN, had extended across Europe sending reports about the development of experimental weapons.

But a year later, as the Allies entered the town and closed in on his position, a radio operator at his post signed off to any colleagues who might still be listening.[]

Remembering ‘Radio Caroline’ Founder Ronan O’Rahilly, A Pioneer Of Pirate Radio (NPR)

NPR’s Scott Simon talks to U.K. broadcaster Johnnie Walker about Ronan O’Rahilly, the founder of the pirate Radio Caroline, who died on April 20 at the age of 79.[]

French Society makes Radio REF free for April and May

Paul Evans notes that two REF-Radio publications are now free to download via the REF website. If you know French, you’ll enjoy these quality radio publications:

Click here to download REF-Radio (PDFs) for:


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Radio Waves: Clandestines, FCC’s New Logo, WNYC Vision, and RAC Membership Renewal Procedures

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Ron, Andrea Borgnino, and Tracy Wood for the following tips:


Clandestine: Under false flags (Nils Schiffhauer – DK8OK)

Non-official radio stations always attracted shortwave listeners who call them “clandestines”, follwing a mixture of mis-understanding and romanticism. The range of this class of stations is remarkably wide. Nowadays, the majority of them is renting time from major transmission centres like Nauen/Germany, Issoudun/France or Toshkent/Uzbekistan.

As all media, they are put into service to influence people and to sell something by propaganda. The difference between an official broadcaster, like Voice of America, and a “clandestine” like North Korea Reform Radio is not palpable – both are financed by the U.S. Congress.

With most broadcasters transmitting on a scale between facts (“white” – nearly only the BBC) and sheer disinformation (“black”), clandestines are placed on the darker third of this range. The separation between “clandestine” and “official” is rather artificial. There simply is no difference between e.g. the official World Harvest Radio and the clandestine Voice of Wilderness, both religious brodcasters, funded by Cornerstone Ministries International/USA – to take just two religious stations.

Today’s activity of clandestines is concentrated on Africa and Asia with especially taking countries like North Korea, China, Eritrea and Sudan into focus.[]

FCC Adopts a New Official Seal in Anticipation of Relocation (ARRL News)

In anticipation of its upcoming move, the FCC has adopted a new FCC seal. The redesigned seal is the product of an agency-wide contest that solicited proposals from employees and contractors. The winning design, submitted by Umasankar Arumugam, was selected by a vote of the agency’s employees and contractors.

The revised design incorporates several elements: communications technologies currently transforming our world; four stars on the outer seal border, drawing from the legacy of the predecessor Federal Radio Commission seal; 18 stars on the shield, recognizing the current number of bureaus and offices; and the eagle and shield, identifying the FCC as a federal government agency.[]

1937 Vision: WNYC, The Flagship Station of a Non-Commercial Cultural Network (WNYC)

The notion of WNYC becoming the flagship station of a non-commercial network of cultural stations was first publicly articulated by Mayor La Guardia at the launching of the station’s new WPA-built transmitter facility in Greenpoint, Brooklyn on October 31, 1937. La Guardia envisioned a non-commercial/educational radio network connected via shortwave rather than expensive landlines leased by AT&T, but the FCC prohibited interstation communication by means other than wire when wire is available. At the ceremony La Guardia sharply criticized the FCC prohibition: “That is just as nonsensical and as unreasonable as to say that one isn’t permitted to fly from here to Chicago because there are railroads going from here to Chicago. Of course, all this is very good for the New York Telephone Company, but it is not so hot for us.”[]

New RAC membership renewal procedures (RAC via Southgate ARC)

On behalf of Radio Amateurs of Canada, I would like to thank you for your continued support of Amateur Radio in Canada and internationally.

Your membership has helped RAC in its two primary objectives: to support and promote Amateur Radio in Canada and internationally; and to provide valuable programs and services to RAC members (see below).

As a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the RAC Head Office in Ottawa has been closed temporarily and we are no longer able to send out membership renewal notices by mail and we will be sending out email notices instead.

We would appreciate it if you would please watch for these messages in your inbox and also in your junk folders – this is especially true if you have Outlook or Hotmail email addresses.

In addition, you can assist us by checking to see when your membership will expire by logging on to the RAC website and going to the “My Membership” webpage (https://www.rac.ca/my-membership/). You can also find it on the mailing label of the paper version of The Canadian Amateur magazine or by calling the RAC office as described below.

If you need to renew your membership you can do so by using one of the following options:

  • Online:  by completing the online renewal form (or by clicking on the “Join Radio Amateurs of Canada” logo on the top right of the RAC website). Payments must be made by credit card or by PayPal.
  • By phone:  by calling 877-273-8304 from 10 am to 4 pm EST/EDT, Monday through Friday (except statutory holidays). You may pay by credit card or you may send a cheque for the appropriate amount to the RAC head office.
  • By mail:  if you prefer to have your renewal form processed via standard mail, you can download an application for your region from the Membership Renewals webpage and mail it to the RAC Office.

73, Glenn MacDonell, VE3XRA
RAC President


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FCC is crystal clear: Remote ham radio licensing exams are absolutely permitted

In the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, amateur radio VECs in the US have been experimenting with remote testing sessions–meaning, administering ham radio license exams via real-time teleconference apps like Skype, Zoom, and Google Meet.

Amateur radio operators in support of remote testing have been contacting the FCC asking for formal approval of remote exams and the ARRL has also been exploring and experimenting with the process.

Today, the FCC posted a public notice, making it clear that FCC approval is not required to conduct remote tests:

We make clear here that nothing in the FCC’s rules prohibits remote testing, and prior FCC approval is not required to conduct remote tests.  The Commission provides flexibility to volunteer examiners and coordinators who wish to develop remote testing methods or to increase remote testing programs already in place.”

I’ve pasted the text from the body of the public notice below (click here to download the full PDF doc):


DA 20-467
Released: April 30, 2020

WIRELESS TELECOMMUNICATIONS BUREAU CONFIRMS THAT
AMATEUR RADIO SERVICE OPERATOR LICENSE EXAMINATIONS
MAY BE HELD REMOTELY

The Amateur Radio Service provides opportunities for self-training, intercommunication, and technical investigations for qualified persons of any age who are interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without pecuniary interest. To operate an Amateur Radio Service station, an operator must have an FCC license. The Commission issues three classes of operator licenses, each authorizing a different level of privilege. 1 The class for which each licensee is qualified is determined during an examination by the level of skill and knowledge in operating a station that the licensee demonstrates to volunteer examiners, who conduct this testing on behalf of FCC-certified volunteer examiner coordinators.

Many potential amateur radio test takers and volunteer examiners have contacted the Chairman and the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau to request that the Commission allow remote testing in light of current public health guidelines regarding social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. We make clear here that nothing in the FCC’s rules prohibits remote testing, and prior FCC approval is not required to conduct remote tests. 2 The Commission provides flexibility to volunteer examiners and coordinators who wish to develop remote testing methods or to increase remote testing programs already in place.3

We recognize that some volunteer examiner coordinators may not have the immediate capacity for widespread remote testing. We expect those volunteer examiner coordinators with limited remote testing capacity to work closely with those requesting such testing to prioritize any available remote testing slots.

– FCC –


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FCC comment period on RF exposure limits

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Paul Evans, who writes:

Readers will recall that the FCC formulated new RF Exposure rules in November 2019. They were released for the Federal Register in early December. There was to be a comment period of 30 days followed by a 30 day reply from the FCC.

Nothing was published until April 1, 2020, when the Federal Register published a FINAL rule on *part* of the original proposals. There was no comment period!

On April 6, 2020 the Federal Register published the rest of the document, but this time with “Comments are due on or before May 6, 2020, and reply comments are due on or before May 21, 2020.”

This too was incorrect and was changed to “Comments are due on or before May 15, 2020, and reply comments are due on or before June 15, 2020.”

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/04/15/2020-07866/human-exposure-to-radiofrequency-electromagnetic-fields-correction

Somebody clearly forgot how to count. Most importantly, these documents should be examined in detail. They should be checked for discrepancies and ‘failures in method’ of their new methods of measurement, testing and realisation. They ignore all the other existing worldwide standards, stating that they need a simpler set of standards in the USA. In the process a clear set of standards (int’l and EU) are muddied and require an entire new suite of tools in order to legally produce RF!

Don’t assume the ARRL will deal with things and that ‘they will be alright’. Time is running out to comment.

Thank you for the heads-up, Paul!

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Radio Waves: New FCC RF Exposure Limits, Rediscovering Spark Gap, Zoom Vulnerabilities, and Extremely Rare Film of MI6 Section VIII

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Paul Evans, and Robert Gulley for the following tips:


FCC Publishes new RF exposure rules (Federal Register)

The FCC has published the new rules in the Federal Register.

Paul notes:

Different above 6GHz
Expanding rules from 3 kHz – 300 GHz to 3 kHz – 3 THz (inc. light
frequency RF sources, essentially future proofing rules)
Introducing SAR measurements from 100 kHz to 6 GHz (impact to ARS)
Introducing MPE measurements above 6 GHz
Introducing ideas for WPT at and below 100 kHz, with control over the
wires or remotely over the air. This is (obviously) for EV charging.
They say nothing about harmonics, filtering, etc.[]

We Rediscover Spark Gap Radio by Accident (CuriousMarc via YouTube)

It’s 1890 all over again in the lab. By complete accident, I find myself the new owner of a high voltage box that turns out to be a vintage Xenon lamp sparker. Not only do we make it work, but we use it to retrace the critical experiments that led to the discovery of radio, using the lamp starter as the spark gap transmitter, and a coherer as the receiver.[..]

Click here to view on YouTube.

Zoom taking your club online – DON’T (Southgate ARC)

On Friday 3rd April, we carried an item regarding the use of Zoom for club meetings.

However, we have since been contacted by Paul, VP9KF, who offers this note of caution.

He says:
“This story http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2020/april/zoom-taking-your-radio-club-online.htm on your page recently is over-shadowed by the news as follows:

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/apr/02/zoom-technology-security-coronavirus-video-conferencing

Don’t use Zoom and get hacked ”

Our thanks to Paul for this informative, if not rather worrying, news item.

[Paul notes that Skype Conference Call is the best method because it is “secure, end to end. In browser (sandbox) with HTML5 embedded features.”]

WW2 Codebreakers: Bletchley Park activities revealed in unique footage – The Hidden Film (YouTube)

Discover the story behind the recently discovered only known wartime film footage of a secret site connected to Bletchley Park.

A silent film, recently donated to Bletchley Park Trust, is believed to be a compilation of footage recorded between 1939 – 1945, showing members of MI6 Section VIII at Whaddon Hall, Buckinghamshire. During World War Two, this was a most secret site where Ultra intelligence produced by the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park would be sent, and then passed on to Allied commanders in the field.

In this mini-documentary, hear Bletchley Park Veteran, Geoffery Pidgeon who worked in MI6 Section VIII during WW2, recall how it felt to watch the film for the first time and recognise his father. Peronel Craddock, Bletchley Park’s Head of Collections and Exhibitions and Dr. David Kenyon, Research Historian at Bletchley Park also talk about why the discovery of this film is so important.

Watch the original footage: https://youtu.be/bvVaFE5O3eY


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FCC hope to hire Pirate Radio hunters

Photo by Ben Koorengevel

(Source: Inside Radio)

Broadcasters would likely call it money well-spent, but it’s still cash coming from the federal government’s hands. The Federal Communications Commission estimates it will cost the agency at least $11 million to enforce the newly-adopted law that requires it to step up pirate radio enforcement. “Specifically, in order to combat the problem of illegal radio operations, the statute requires a sweeping process that will require new equipment and a substantial number of additional field agents to implement fully,” FCC Chair Ajit Pai told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee during a hearing on Tuesday. Pai said he hoped congressional budget writers would determine a “reasonable funding level” for the FCC that reflects that added cost, suggesting the agency’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year should be raised to $354 million.

Signed into law by President Trump last month, the Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement Act, or “PIRATE” Act (S.1228) was unanimously approved by both the Senate and House. The new law raises fines on unlicensed station operators to $100,000 per day per violation, up to a maximum of $2 million. In addition to tougher fines on violators, the FCC would also be required to conduct sweeps in the five cities where pirate radio is the biggest problem—New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Dallas—at least once a year. And then, within six months, field agents would be mandated to return to those markets to conduct “monitoring sweeps” to determine whether the unlicensed operators simply powered back up or changed frequencies. The agency would also be required to issue a report to Congress on an annual basis about its pirate-fighting efforts.

Pai told the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee that the FCC is already gearing up for implementing the new law. “We are submitting a formal amendment to the Office of Management and Budget concerning costs associated with the full implementation of the PIRATE Act,” said Pai.[…]

Continue reading the full article at Inside Radio.

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