Automatically controlled data stations

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by KX4Z, Sep 21, 2019.

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  1. KX4Z

    KX4Z Ham Member QRZ Page

    I was asked to explain (my best effort) 97.221 for a person who was being questioned by another leader. Here is my best effort. If you see that I'm completely screwed up, please feel free to set me straight.

    First, a definition and a comment thereon:

    (6) Automatic control. The use of devices and procedures for control of a station when it is transmitting so that compliance with the FCC Rules is achieved without the control operator being present at a control point.

    This gives the definition. It places no limits on what the station can do, other than it must comply with other FCC rules. For example, it can initiate transmissions (after due diligence to verify it will not interfere with others); it can identify; it can receive transmissions; it can store and forward information in ways allowed by other regulations. Notice that it matters not whether the owner is standing there. The definition concerns itself with the devices and procedures of control.

    Secondly, 97.221, the passage on which questions were asked to my friend, relating to a subset of automatically controlled stations:

    §97.221 Automatically controlled digital station.

    (a) This rule section does not apply to an auxiliary station, a beacon station, a repeater station, an earth station, a space station, or a space telecommand station.

    (b) A station may be automatically controlled while transmitting a RTTY or data emission on the 6 m or shorter wavelength bands, and on the 28.120-28.189 MHz, 24.925-24.930 MHz, 21.090-21.100 MHz, 18.105-18.110 MHz, 14.0950-14.0995 MHz, 14.1005-14.112 MHz, 10.140-10.150 MHz, 7.100-7.105 MHz, or 3.585-3.600 MHz segments.

    (c) Except for channels specified in §97.303(h), a station may be automatically controlled while transmitting a RTTY or data emission on any other frequency authorized for such emission types provided that:

    (1) The station is responding to interrogation by a station under local or remote control; and

    (2) No transmission from the automatically controlled station occupies a bandwidth of more than 500 Hz.

    Now my best effort at unpacking this:

    97.221(b) gives the frequencies on which an automatically controlled digital station can utilize all legal activities. In practice, certain digital stations within these frequencies, can automatically receive, or automatically initiate transmissions of their own after due diligence. (in other words, it is incorrect, for example, to assert that all automatically controlled digital stations can only answer interrogations.....)

    97.221(c) governs a SUBSET of automatically controlled digital stations which have both an advantage and two corresponding disadvantages:

    1) their frequency restrictions are much less limiting than those applying to other automatically controlled stations which have to comply with 97.221(b)

    2) their bandwidth is more limited than other automatically controlled stations

    3) their function is much more limited: they cannot on their on automatically initiate a transmission; they can only RESPOND to " interrogation by a station under local or remote control"

    In other words, stations operating under this restricted 97.221(c) [a subset of all automatically controlled digital stations] are the ones which can only RESPOND, but not initiate....and that is how it works in all the systems I've seen 97.221(c) cited...

    Examples of SYSTEMS in which stations may be operated as an automatically controlled data station:
    BBS (e.g., BPQ)
    probably many others.....

    I hope this is helpful. I'm not a lawyer, this is just how I've seen this understood by quite a few.
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2019
  2. KX4Z

    KX4Z Ham Member QRZ Page

    Well, it is delightful to see that simply reading the English of FCC Regulations apparently isn't that controversial! Perhaps everyone already "gets" what these regulations say. That would be quite pleasant. They are a LOT simpler than some of the ones I had to get Ron to explain to me, and then I still had troubles with them.
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