FCC Proposes to Reinstate Amateur Radio Service Fees

08/28/2020

Amateur radio licensees would pay a $50 fee for each amateur radio license application if the FCC adopts rules it proposed this week. Included in the FCC’s fee proposal are applications for new licenses, renewal and upgrades to existing licenses, and vanity call sign requests. Excluded are applications for administrative updates, such as changes of address, and annual regulatory fees.

The FCC proposal is contained in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in MD Docket 20-270, which was adopted to implement portions of the “Repack Airwaves Yielding Better Access for Users of Modern Services Act” of 2018 — the so-called “Ray Baum’s Act.”

The Act requires that the FCC switch from a Congressionally-mandated fee structure to a cost-based system of assessment. In its NPRM, the FCC proposed application fees for a broad range of services that use the FCC’s Universal Licensing System (ULS), including the Amateur Radio Service that had been excluded by an earlier statute. The 2018 statute excludes the Amateur Service from annual regulatory fees, but not from application fees.

“[A]pplications for personal licenses are mostly automated and do not have individualized staff costs for data input or review,” the FCC said in its NPRM. “For these automated processes — new/major modifications, renewal, and minor modifications — we propose a nominal application fee of $50 due to automating the processes, routine ULS maintenance, and limited instances where staff input is required.”

The same $50 fee would apply to all Amateur Service applications, including those for vanity call signs. “Although there is currently no fee for vanity call signs in the Amateur Radio Service, we find that such applications impose similar costs in aggregate on Commission resources as new applications and therefore propose a $50 fee,” the FCC said.

The FCC is not proposing to charge for administrative updates, such as mailing address changes for amateur applications, and amateur radio will remain exempt from annual regulatory fees. “For administrative updates [and] modifications, which also are highly automated, we find that it is in the public interest to encourage licensees to update their [own] information without a charge,” the FCC said.

The FCC also proposes to assess a $50 fee for individuals who want a printed copy of their license. “The Commission has proposed to eliminate these services — but to the extent the Commission does not do so, we propose a fee of $50 to cover the costs of these services,” the FCC said.

The Ray Baum’s Act does not exempt filing fees in the Amateur Radio Service. The FCC dropped assessment of fees for vanity call signs several years ago.

Deadlines for comments and reply comments will be determined once the NPRMappears in the Federal Register. File comments by using the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS), posting to MD Docket No. 20-270. This docket is already open for accepting comments even though deadlines have not yet been set.  [from W4BZM via ARRL]

WINMOR is No More

There are rumors that “Winlink is going away”. Well, no, not really — but some of the modes that we were accustomed to using as hams are being replaced by new modes. This article is an attempt to clear up some of the confusing Winlink terminology perhaps get hams back into Winlink e-mail if they have been recently “shut out”.

Those of us using Winlink to send messages via RMS Express may have recently noticed responses back from the RMS Gateway that WINMOR will no longer being supported, and users should switch to ARDOP or VARA mode.

Huh?

First, some background on terminology:
1. Winlink is a system of message distribution. The Winlink system is still here to stay. The Winlink system allows messages to be sent via multiple modes:

  • WINMOR mode on HF
  • PACTOR mode on HF
  • Packet mode on VHF
  • Telnet mode via an Internet connection
  • Post Office mode via a LAN network (hard-wired or wireless mesh)

2. This discussion will address only the first mode, WINMOR and its replacements, ARDOP and VARA. WINMOR was the “go to” mode for HF message exchange in the software package RMS Express, which many of us hams used. RMS Express software has now been replaced by Winlink Express.

3. In July 2020, the WINMOR mode has been “deprecated“. That means the Radio Message Server (RMS) Gateways in the Winlink system will start to refuse message transfer via the WINMOR mode. WINMOR mode is being replaced by the modes of:

  • ARDOP (Amateur Radio Digital Open Protocol), or
  • VARA HF (and I can’t seem to find what VARA stands for)

In response to this decision, the latest versions of Winlink Express now include ARDOP Winlink and Vara HF Winlink as options to open a session.

4. WINMOR mode formerly offered speeds up to 1,300 bps and is still included in Winlink Express software (at least, in version 1.15.31.0) — but is being “deprecated”.

5. ARDOP Mode offers speeds up to 4,000 bps and is also included in Winlink Express software. (My experience with ARDOP mode on a Yaesu FT-991 is that ARDOP is difficult to get set up and running.)

6. VARA HF offer speeds up to 7,000 bps but requires an external add-on software package which interfaces to Winlink Express. (This external software package requires a $69 user license, but VARA HF can be tested without registration at a restricted speed.) My experience with VARA HF on the Yaesu FT-991 is that is runs right out of the download with no problems .

So if you are being shut out of the Winlink message system because your software is out of date, go to the Winlink site at www.winlink.org, where you will find links to update your software to the new configurations. If you are successful, send me an e-mail at W4BZM@winlink.org!

Mike – W4BZM

New QTH for KN4UDV

Jim Mc Clure and Rich Girardin work at the club station.

Many of you know Jim McClure, KN4UDV, as the motorcycle-rider with the handlebar mustache.  Jim sends that he will soon be moving to Colorado Springs to be with his daughter and son-in-law.  He asked us to tell the NOARC members that he has enjoyed the chance to get to know all of you and that he will especially miss the opportunities for contesting with everyone.  He will still be receiving text at his current phone number and email at his current address, and hopes to work some of the members again on HF from Colorado Springs. [relayed via W4BZM]

Results from 8/10/2020 Exam

The exam on August 10 had 14 applicants, 12 of which were from the class. Nine of the 14 got the Technician licenses, one got the General upgrade, and one person went from zero to Extra.   The VEs were KA5DLV, KM4OZK, KL7LS, AJ4XK, KJ4RWD, KK4WDQ and W4BZM.


The list follows: 


Christopher Bolin KO4GDR Tech; Suzanne Cain KO4GDS Tech; David Cook KY4AI Extra; David Craft KO4GDT Tech; Mackenzie Holliday KO4FUU to General; Scott Friesen KO4GDU Tech; Christoper Kelly KO4GDV Tech; James King KO4GDW Tech; William King KO4GDX Tech; Katherine Talley KO4GDY Tech; Michael Williams KO4GDZ Tech


Congratulations to all of the new hams, upgrades, instructors and VEs.

SEPTEMBER Tech Night 2020: Satellite Operations

The SEPTEMBER Tech Night was presented by club member, past President and current Vice-President Ron Mahn, KI5FR.  His topic is Satellite Operations: How do I get started?

Ron is one of the most active hams in the Panhandle using this mode.  He has presented this topic numerous times to the club, and sets up a station at Field Day operations. 

In this presentation learn about the various uplinks, downlinks, Cubesats other “birds”, and software to make the tracking easier on you.  As many of you know, the International Space Station has amateurs on it also.

Download PDf here.
Download Powerpoint here.

Thursday, September 24, 2020, 7:00 pm was at the Live Oak Baptist Church Fellowship Hall and on Zoom. This presentation was rescheduled due to unforeseen circumstances.

Loaner Pool ?

I recently accepted a donation of a Kenwood TH-7D7A handi-talkie for use in the NOARC “loaner pool”.  (We currently have three Baofengs which can be checked out by new hams to get on the air quickly while they are deciding what hardware to buy.)  This is an older HT, but still very capable — dual 2m/0.7m FM with built-in APRS capability and the long-life battery.

Unfortunately, it was donated without a charger or reprogramming cable.  Both are available on eBay, but before I spend $50 for a charger and $25 for a cable, I’d like to know if the radio in fact still works.  I have no idea how long it has been since it was operational, since it came from the estate of a silent key. 

Does anyone have a Kenwood BC-19 or BC-17 charger, or a PG-4W programming cable, which I could borrow to test out this new-to-us HT?

Mike W4BZM
W4BZM@arrl.net

CRESTVIEW UNITY FLASHLIGHT WALK

The Club President was asked in early February by Police Chief Steven McCosker for the club to assist his officers with the first Unity Flashlight Walk. The 1.2 mile walk (5:45 pm on February 29, 2020) in downtown Crestview requested we be their “eyes and ears” while the patrol officers walked with residents as a sign of solidarity of community strength and unity. The hams were to be aided by Okaloosa Sheriff and other community volunteers. As the last marchers passed each of 14 checkpoints (street intersections), horse-type barricades would be removed and we were to be released.

The club was allowed to setup a tent (net control point) at the start/finish of the walk, which was City Hall. There was also one ham “ bicycle mobile” as a roamer. The net was run on 447.000 Mhz.

Thanks to the hams the participated: KM4OZK as a community walker; KI4MEU, KM4YOH, N4DPM, KF6LEC, KI4ZIH, KJ4PIU, KM4SPJ, KI4ZER and friend, KN4UDS and daughter, KF4RAF, KA5DLV, KM4SRO and wife, KI5FR, WB4EWS, KJ4FNA, AK4XK, KL7LS, KK4WDQ and KO4AFZ.

Thanks to Mayor JB Whitten and Chief McCosker for attending our meeting and presenting their request.

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Officer Elections

In our Novermber 14th Business meeting we elected new officers:

President two year term: Bob Murphy
Vice President one year term: Ron Mahn
Secretary one year term: Ralph Zecco
Treasurer two year term: Steve Strom