How many call signs do you need?

Posted: April 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

Beverly Matheson is a brand new Extra Class licensee. But you would not know it. Her call is KJ6SRX. Beverly is a 4th grade teacher at Dorothy Grant Elementary School in Fontana, California and the Co-Founder of the Dorothy Grant Amateur Radio Club. Beverly is also an ARRL approved Volunteer Examiner. Beverly has three HF rigs in her class room and has mentored over forty of her students of which 24 of them have obtained their amateur radio licenses. I think we all agree that this hobby needs more people like Beverly Matheson!

Upon upgrading to Amateur Extra Class, Beverly set about to apply for an Extra Class call in Call District Six. Well guess what? There are no 1X2 or 2X1 calls available in Call Area Six. Beverly has applied for an available 2X2 call sign.

One of the incentives for amateur general class license holders to upgrade to extra class is the ability to obtain either a 1X2 or 2X1 call sign. These are considered desirable for various reasons, mainly they depict the user is an extra class operator. The call is also shorter and easier to use in a repetitive fashion such as in contesting.

According to the website, in call districts 4, 5, 6 and 7, there are currently no 1X2 or 2X1 call signs available to be assigned. This means that any general class licensee upgrading to extra class cannot successfully apply for a 1X2 or 2X1 call sign in their call area. This partly diminishes the benefit of upgrading doesn’t it?

Let’s examine what may be behind the cause of this shortage of available 1X2 and 2X1 call signs. In call area six, for as long as I can remember, it has been difficult to obtain a 1X2 or 2X1 call sign. There are many active amateur extras in call area six but is this the source of the shortage?

Contesting is also very popular from call area six. There are many avid W6 contesters who are extremely competitive and take every step possible to be as competitive as possible.

Many Contesters have created clubs and many of them hold a 1X2 and 2X1 call sign for their contesting purposes in addition to their own 1X2 call sign. Yes folks, these fellas have three Extra Class call signs!

Some of them claim that the extra calls are needed to be competitive in the WPX Prefix Contest. The question begs, is this fair for these guys to hold three separate Extra Class calls when newly licensed Extra Class licensees find it next to impossible to obtain a single 1X2 or 2X1 call sign for their own usage?

This seems terribly unfair and an abuse of the process which allows a group of four amateurs to create a club and to obtain a club call sign.

I think the ARRL should investigate this abuse of the rules and have the Official Observers contact each Club Call Trustee. They should verify that the call signs are being used by a legitimate club which meets all of the requirements of the Club Call License. I have no concern with legitimate clubs holding call signs as allowed by FCC rules. It’s the sham clubs created as a guise to hold desirable calls signs for infrequent use that should be the focus of our concern.

The solution for the shortage of 1X2 and 2X1 call signs in call area six is for the sham clubs to be exposed and dissolved. Their calls should be given back to the assignment pool. The guys holding these multiple 1X2 and 2X1 calls need to do some self-examination of what they are doing and why. Their peers are looking at this issue and holding our noses. It stinks!

Lastly, the FCC should consider changing the rules to allow only the less desirable 2X2 and 1X3 calls for use by radio clubs.

What do you think?


  1. ky6r says:

    In 1973 I was WN2QHN, in 1975 – WA2QHN. I wasn’t a DX-er, so my call was fine. I was a General class with no real incentive to upgrade as I was just a CW “Traffic Guy” and Rag Chewer.

    I was inactive from 1977 – 2001, but with one “attempt” at getting back on the air in 1991. I decided to go to the Sunnyvale VEC session – and passed my Advanced and Extra tests – at 20 wpm.

    I applied for a new call and got AB6VA, and didn’t like it, so applied for a vanity. I wanted one or more initials in my call – and the shorter the better for CW. I still wasn’t a DX-er, but was still a CW guy. I never was a big phone guy.

    I still liked the old “W – east of the rockies, K – west of the rockies” idea, but it was already becoming a thing of the past. I could tell that the 1×2’s and 2×1’s would disappear.

    I got KY6R, and I think there were some 1×2’s and 2×1’s available in 6 land. At that time – yes, it still mattered that when you worked for your Extra – you had some “privileges” – like going for a shorter call. My old idea of something really killer went away (i.e. K6RH or whatever) because I really like how KY6R sounds in CW – its very “rhythmic” and in SSB the phonetics are great. But the 2×1’s sounded like a newbie with a vanity call at the time. I dropped my concern over this.

    I do feel for Extra’s who cannot have this privilege because they have all been snapped up.

    Like Kingman Reef – its a “conundrum” . . . .

    • Robert WD8NVN says:

      1×2 callsign hoarding is rediculous case in point: W8BN>>W8OH>> W8RF. Another example: N1CS>> W8FEZ>> WO8HIO>> W0EYE>> K8PJ

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