"Reasonable and Prudent": Should the FCC remove restrictions on power?

Discussion in 'Survey Center' started by AB2T, Jan 8, 2012.


OK those kilowatt powerhouses?

  1. Yes

    13 vote(s)
  2. Yes, but with conditions (explain)

    4 vote(s)
  3. Yes, but all operators should participate (explain)

    0 vote(s)
  4. No

    56 vote(s)
  5. This idea is completely insane!

    37 vote(s)
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  1. AB2T

    AB2T Ham Member QRZ Page

    Amps are an important part of the hobby which some hams consider almost a necessity. For decades, American hams have been restricted to 1500w PEP on all frequencies unless otherwise restricted. Canadian Advanced qualification operators can operate up to 2250w PEP. Britain allows its Advanced operators only 400w. There is by no means international agreement on operator power levels.

    Similarly, speed limits are different around the world. In most European Union countries, the absolute highway speed limit is 80 mph (130 km/h). As is famously known, certain stretches of the German autobahn have a "recommended" speed limit of 80 mph. However, drivers may drive as fast as conditions permit. Still, those drivers who survive very high speed collisions above the recommended speed limit forfeit their car insurance benefits. A driver must balance freedom with civil, legal, and lethal risk. For a decade or so Montana experimented with a similar policy, with signs reading "Reasonable and Prudent".

    In an autobahn vein, I propose that the FCC remove all power restrictions, either carrier or PEP, for Advanced and Amateur Extra licensees. Technician and General operators would still be allowed up to 1500w PEP where permitted. The "recommended" power limit for Advanceds and Extras would still be 1500w PEP. However, higher class operators would be permitted to operate more power if a very high level of spectral purity is maintained.

    Operators who run <=1500w and knowingly or unknowingly produce splatter and spurious emissions would be subject to much more lenient enforcement than those hams who cause interference with much greater amplification. While an operator running an improperly tuned amp up to or at the recommended power level might receive a series of warnings before gradual enforcement, the penalty scale for those hams running "dirty" amps at more than the recommended power level would be much more severe, with earlier financial penalties.

    Is the removal of ham power limits possible with the current lack of FCC enforcement? Would the removal of power limits result in a small minority of hams monopolizing the bands? Let me know your ideas and how you'd change the system.
  2. NI7I

    NI7I Ham Member QRZ Page

    Well Jordan, Since the present power regulations are all but unenforceable, I wouldnt waste my time changing them. For all intents and purposes, we have
    unlimited power available now.. The only limitation is our checkbooks. It would be nice if the operators that do use QRO would make sure that their amps
    were properly adjusted but reallym, thats already part of the body of regulations that are unenforced.

  3. SM0AOM

    SM0AOM Ham Member QRZ Page

    There exists at least one international objection for removing the FCC power limit;
    the ITU Radio Regulations which say:

    "25.7 § 4. The maximum power of amateur stations shall be fixed by the administrations concerned."

    If the FCC would state that they will not regulate amateur power levels, some eyebrows are likely to be raised in the ITU.

    It is however more reasonable to expect future lowered permitted amateur power levels as the public becomes more aware of electromagnetic fields.

    If the EU field strength limit for radiated immunity EMC compliance for consumer goods, 3 V/m, would be used as a standard even for exposure of the public, maximum permitted power in the HF bands of 50 - 100 W to dipoles may become the outcome.

  4. AB2T

    AB2T Ham Member QRZ Page

    Completely agreed. This question is entirely hypothetical because, as you say, enforcement is nonexistent anyway.

    This "poll" is in part intended as a way to discuss the lack of enforcement and the routine disregard for the "legal limit". Even if the FCC decided to enforce Part 97 again, some operators would inevitably continue to run even more power. In a hypothetical world where the FCC actually did its job, I don't see why the above system could not be put into place. In an ideal situation, hams could either follow the power limit, exceed the limit but with a clean signal and not be punished, or exceed the limit with poorly-maintained equipment and receive progressive fines. In a way, my idea decriminalizes excessive power so long as the operator maintains his or her station responsibly.

    Karl-Arne, I wouldn't mind that legislation at all since I only run up to ~120w or so. I have no wish to use any amplifier -- the above question is completely contrary-to-fact for me. I also agree also that operators have a responsibility to maintain a safe operating environment. However, as Lee notes, amateur radio legal enforcement in the US is non-existent. Environmental legislation is given virtually no priority given because our government ministry does almost nothing anyway. Even if there were enforcement, the FCC could not possibly issue citations to the large number of hams who exceed the limit but do so with a clean signal. Ignoring these hams despite their lawlessness might actually focus efforts on getting verbally abusive hams off the air.

    The FCC need not petition for an exemption from ITU law. The 1500W limit would remain. However, de facto unlimited power would be permitted.
  5. KB3LAZ

    KB3LAZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Of the European ops that I have worked they seem to have better operating practices and more patience in general when compared to many US QRO stations I talk to. May have something to do with their power restrictions or just their upbringing or maybe both. Just a random thought. I suppose that for a conclusion to be reached on that particular subject it would take sociological data that I do not have a desire to find and am unqualified to properly deduce myself.

    That being said, I will get to see things from the other side of the pond shortly.

    As for a change on power restrictions in the US..I dont really have an opinion. Suppose it would be something to ponder over.
  6. NI7I

    NI7I Ham Member QRZ Page

    I dont see that as an objection. I see it, on the contrary, as the ITU saying that it's up to the various countries to set limits.
    I think the limits should be removed and technical standards raised.


  7. WA4OTD

    WA4OTD XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I don't think they should remove the limit, if someone wants to violate the law we should not change the law to accomodate them. The present limits are high enough.
  8. KJ3N

    KJ3N Ham Member QRZ Page

    They are? That's news to me. My amp is off 75% of the time.

    As to the rest of your post? I find it to be a pretty dumb idea. 1500w is enough for anyone.

    Lack of FCC enforcement is a budgetary issue. You want enforcement, get Congress to increase the FCC's budget, or allow the FCC to keep the money it collects for fees and fines. Right now, all that goes into the General Fund.
  9. AG8K

    AG8K Ham Member QRZ Page

    Most expensive things in America (Mercedes SLR McLaren, private aircraft, NYC penthouse apartments, good health care?) are limited to the rich. I don't see why extra power amplifiers should be any different. If you can afford a 10KW amp and the electricity to run it, it is OK with me. The essence of American is supposed to be freedom, not government control.

    73, Tom
  10. AG8K

    AG8K Ham Member QRZ Page

    It is interesting to me that not one modern amp has a build-in monitor scope. Is it that CRT monitor scopes no longer work with modern radio equipment or is it that we just don't give a hoot?
  11. AB2T

    AB2T Ham Member QRZ Page

    You're right. That's an exaggeration I shouldn't have made. I don't own an amp and don't intend on getting one. Some hams consider an amp to be a necessity, however, and that's their game.

    I agree that 1500W is enough for anyone. Heck, 100W is fine enough with me and many other hams.

    I'm not convinced that increasing the FCC budget will increase ham radio enforcement. The FCC as of late is more interested in the auctioning of spectrum to corporations than the regulation of a voluntary service which provides virtually no income. A Congressional "raise" for the FCC would merely strengthen the FCC's involvement with commercial interests and not substantially benefit ham radio. Even if there were a way to strengthen the FCC's ham radio enforcement, I would rather that the time and energy be spent on controlling verbally abusive or profane operators rather than hams who run clean signals which exceed the legal limit.
  12. KB3LAZ

    KB3LAZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    It was a complete waste of money for me. I thought I would use it much more than I would. Maybe 2% of the time. Granted, Im a listener more than a talker.
  13. NO2A

    NO2A Ham Member QRZ Page

    I usually run 100 watts unless conditions and/or noise are bad. Then i run about half the legal limit. I can`t imagine ever needing more than 1500 watts. If they can`t hear you with that they`re not going to hear you with twice that.
  14. NI7I

    NI7I Ham Member QRZ Page

    That's not ecessarily true. Not that it really matters. This is, in spite of arguments to the contrary, a hobby. That being said, there are conditions, many times, where doubling your
    power will certainly be the difference between being heard and not being heard. When I didnt hve that ability, I often argued the same argument.. Now that I can, I have seen it work that way. It's a sort of silly argument.


  15. WA4BRL

    WA4BRL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Without an FCC commitment to effective and consistent enforcement, no way. And the FCC lately hasn't the will or resources to marshal such an effort. Even if one could justify any need for higher power than is currently authorized, a minority of flakes who can't control their impulses would ruin it for everyone. We already see the abuses in the form of bad language, interference, and music in our minimal-enforcement environment. I see no benefit in germinating more problems than we already have. I voted "No".

    P.S. -- I own a kilowatt amp for those times when I perceive the need. Turns out that's well under 1% of my operating. Mostly the only time I touch it is when dusting.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2012
  16. WS4B

    WS4B Ham Member QRZ Page

    Return to old DC power limit

    For this poll, I voted Yes with conditions.

    Meaning go back to the 1 KW DC for those on AM, even if that means a one band exception for 160 to get through the summertime QRN.
  17. WA7PRC

    WA7PRC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Neither. Many have the ill-conceived notion that they can adjust/drive the amplifier based on a meter indication or some rule-of-thumb. Other "reasons" for not using a 'scope I've read/heard:

    • "Oscilloscopes are expensive."
    • "Oscilloscopes are hard to use."
    • "You can't clearly observe nonlinearity on an oscilloscope."

    Reality is:
    • You can find a suitable scope for $1/MHz or less (for HF, 50 MHz is good enough). Many years ago, I splurged for a 100 MHz scope ($100).
    • Oscilloscopes are super easy to use.
    • I know when I'm flat-topping (in real-time) before someone tells me I am.

    Before I bought my first 'scope, I was horribly under-loading my SB-220... and splattering.
  18. AB2T

    AB2T Ham Member QRZ Page

    Alright, this looks like another one of Jordan's hare-brained questions. I thought that in the extreme the decriminalization of power use might be the only way to focus meagre enforcement resources towards verbally abusive or intimidating operators.

    I am however glad that in the post-FCC enforcement world hams of good will have been able to for the most part manage the worst of our problems. I agree with WA4BRL that simply "giving in" to those ops who speed past the power levels might only invite worse operation. Reminds me of a personal radio service on 11m.

    No more polls from me for a while. I have other ideas but they're just as looney.
  19. N2EY

    N2EY Ham Member QRZ Page

    I think power limits are a Good Thing.

    I think AMers should be able to run 1 kW input, just like in the old days. At least Extras and Advanceds should be.

    73 de Jim, N2EY
  20. WA6MHZ

    WA6MHZ Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    If folks can have a special POWER PLANT built for them, they oughta be able to run a GIGAWATT!!! MORE POWER!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE NEED MORE POWER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I know my 500W outta my SB-200 is too LAME, but it is 5 times better than the 100W I used to have!
    Now, I see greater success in getting through Pileups. No longer do I have to call for days and WEEKS, often getting SKUNKED! QRO is GOOD!!!! ULTRA-QRO is GOODER!!!!

    I saw a 5KW Linnyure at Dayton back a year or so ago. Here it is!!!

    If I ONLY had brought a TRUCK and several THOUSAND BUCKS, I could have had THIS in my shack!
    Of course, I would have to keep it THROTTLED BACK........Until that RAREST OF RARE DX's came on. They, the power knob is turned up to ELEVEN!!!
    "WA6MHZed five nine....."
    "five nine also, thank you!"
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2012
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