ARRL rule change and men and their toys……

Posted: January 22, 2015 in Uncategorized

Toys

Today, the ARRL issued a DXCC rule change announcement. You can read the entire announcement on the ARRL’s website. In a nutshell, the ARRL expanded where the control point of a remote station could be. They said it could be essentially anywhere. This is a big change, one in which I welcome. I am glad to see the ARRL decision making evolve with the technology at hand and the times we are in.

W9EVT_Shack

Some guys want one of each kind of radio. More power to them!

I like to experiment and use remotes. My own station is remoted and I look forward to futher technology enhancements in the realm of remoting.

SteppirDB42

Some guys want the biggest antenna!

Some of my local hams are not happy about this situation. They feel that the ARRL is selling DXCC certificates out of a “Cracker Jack Box”. They feel that the ARRL is making the DXCC award entirely too easy and is further “dumbing down” the process.

wpid-Photo-10-Dec-2012-2310

Some guys like big toys!

My wife understands ham radio pretty well. She often says that we are men just “playing with our toys”. Indeed, ham radio is a hobby and some guys take it much too seriously. I mean it is fun, but this is not brain surgery. Its grown men playing with radios and antennas and enjoying the technology.

Submarine

You can buy your own submarine!

The way I see it, remote stations and services such as RemoteHamRadio.com just make it so more people with less real estate or disposable income can enjoy the hobby along with the guys that have acres and stacks of antennas. What’s unfair about that?

toys_boys_30

Some guys like fast cars!

The best thing about this decision is that the ARRL is listening to their members and is embracing the advances and evolution of technology. That is what has me most satisfied with this decision.

toys-for-boys-255910

Some guys like fast cars and the women to go in them!

What do you think?

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Comments
  1. Mike KJ4Z says:

    I am relieved that ARRL decided not to keep me from using my station for DXCC. I was surprised at how broad the decision was, but I think it may eventually lead to exciting new opportunities that will benefit all of ham radio. Part of our remit is to “advance the radio art,” and I think things like SDR and remote operation fall into that category. I think this will be a win for all of us, even those who prefer to do their operating the traditional way.

  2. Kirk Kridner says:

    Wait a minute, you mean that we can choose between the ham radio and the fast cars and the women to go in them? Can I get a do-over here?

    The ARRL Board of Directors were faced with a decision between recognizing the value of evolving technologies and the reality that 20% of the U.S. population is now subject to HOA restrictions, which will only continue to get worse — as such the choice was either to allow the hobby to become technologically stagnant because of the concerns of some who apparently do not appreciate that ham radio is a brotherhood that should promote camaraderie and international good will, or that the evolving technologies can be used to keep our hobby relevant and offer more opportunities for hams to get back on the air. Fortunately, the Directors made the right choice.

  3. Roger says:

    I agree with the Board of Directors decision — or “non-decision” – regarding remote vis. a vis. DXCC. The only puzzling thing is that the board says there are potentially “ethical” issues but they don’t say what aspects of remote might or might not be ethical. So how can there be ethical issues — or potential ethical issues — if there is no type of remote that is against DXCC rules?

    According to Dave Sumner the new rules allow you to operate a station with multiple towers, with stacked monobanders, that is on top of Loma Prieta in California from the following places: (a) anywhere in the Bay Area, (b) anywhere in California, (c) anywhere in the Western USA, (d) anywhere in the “lower 48”, (e) anywhere in NA, (f) anywhere in the World — either land or sea, (g) from the Moon, (h) from the back side of the moon, (i) from any side of any planet in the Solar System [not stated but implied], or [j] from any place in the Milky Way Galaxy or the space between any body in the Milky Way [not stated but implied].

    Maybe various hams will gravitate into various “user groups” doing DXCC such as Northern California Remote DXCC club with a very expansive view of remote and Northern California Non-Remote DXCC club with view that has a restrictive definition of ‘remote’ that by common consensus the group defines. If so that’s fine with me.

    In my case, I’m defining DXCC to mean: all contacts are made from physical transmit/receive/antenna locations within the DXCC entity of the USA and no remotes are involved. I’m not saying this is the more “ethical” understanding of remote. All I’m saying is that is how I started out doing DXCC circa 2003 and so for me if and when I ever get on the Honor Roll [right now I need 6 or 7 more entities to be there] then it will be using assets that are physically at my own QTH.

    I guess I could sign up right now for remote and increase my likelihood of working EP6T by an order of magnitude. But hope springs eternal so maybe I’ll snag him using my existing methodology in the remaining few days that the EP6T operation is active.

    Or maybe I’ll not be able to work Iran this time but then a group will go there with bigger/taller beams/towers in a few years when propagation to Central USA is better. I didn’t sign up for this crazy “hobby” because it was a cakewalk. I didn’t intentionally move to a place with no CC&Rs and set up all of this ham gear / antennas overnight.

    A few weeks ago some guys scaled straight up a face in Yosemite. Other guys, like me, walked up to the top of the rim using a serpentine trail with a million switchbacks. Who is the guy that got to the top in the “ethical” way?

    73 Roger K5RKS Oklahoma City

  4. mike says:

    They got it right! 73 es gud dx om ..mike AI6II

  5. sounds as some might be able to make tons of money with with their stations now

    • n6pse says:

      Peter, I don’t think anyone is making tons of money off of renting time on remote stations. Remember, Hams are cheap!

      • Gary says:

        I remember as a young lad working at Van Sickle Radio in Indy, Gene said “Remember Gary.. Hams are the cheapest bastards on the planet”

  6. Roger AC6BW says:

    From the press release:
    “Issues concerning remotely controlled operating and DXCC are best dealt with by each individual carefully considering the ethical limits that he/she will accept for his/her DXCC and other operating awards,” the new rule states. It adds, in part, “the owner of these achievements needs to be comfortable standing behind his/her award and numbers. Peer attention has always been a part of awards chasing, of course, but in these times with so many awards and so many players, it is more important than ever to ‘play the game ethically.’”
    Subsection 11 acknowledges that technological advances “add to the difficulty in defining rules for DXCC,” but stresses that the intent of the rules is what’s important. “It will continue to be up to the operator to decide what types of legal remote control operating he/she will use (if any) to contribute to an operating award,” the new rule concludes.

    The rule change is a subtle difference. The old rule stated that the control station must be in the same DXCC entity. The new rule states that it can be anywhere. That makes no difference for a remote station in the USA, that is controlled from the USA.

    I see exactly where the ARRL is coming from when they mention “play the game ethically”.

    In my case, I would not consider spending $5K/year, and x dollars per minute, to rent a big gun station on the east coast, so I can work EP6T, and other entities where the East Coast enjoys a big advantage in propagation. It’s not about the money. This is where the “ethical” part comes in. Even if doing so would eventually put me on the Honor Roll, I would not do it. I am proud of the 221 entities that I have worked so far with my mediocre station, and I continue to make improvements to my station, within the limitations of my QTH and budget, that will help me increase my DXCC totals. I also continue to hone my operating skills. I take satisfaction knowing that I am using my own station, that I put together with my own sweat, which has resulted in QSOs like FT4TA which I really had to work for, rather than just opening my wallet to easily score some new ones.

    I empathize with those that have to deal with CCRs. Fortunately, I have no CCRs at the house where I live. I am really on the fence over this matter. Sure, I agree it is fine to use the technology to get on the air and operate, faced with the alternative of not operating. But operating an east coast station from the west coast for DXCC credit is a different matter, in my opinion.
    I worked my first 100+ DXCC entities using a 6 ft mobile vertical from an apartment balcony. It wasn’t easy, but it can be done. There is a way to get around antenna restrictions.

    Roger- AC6BW

    • Mike KJ4Z says:

      Hi Roger,

      Is operating a mediocre, wire antenna station that you built with your own sweat on the east coast a problem if you do it from the west coast? I ask sincerely, because I don’t understand why that would be objectionable. What about if you’re only operating from the east coast, and the reason you chose east coast is because that’s where you are from and where you will presumably be going back to?

      73,
      Mike

      • Roger AC6BW says:

        Mike,
        I guess there are many possible scenarios to the remote operating debate. I was probably focusing more on the extreme example of someone who lives on the west coast, but does not own property or a station on the east coast, and who rents a big gun station through remoteham.net (or whomever), with the sole purpose of improving DXCC totals from entities that are more easily worked from the east coast.

        I realize there are many other scenarios that fall in between the extremes.

        I can somewhat understand the Leagues position on this. Perhaps they feel that the less intrusion there is, the better. The ethical decision is left to the operator, as the League states in their announcement.

        So, I can’t answer your question. Only you can.

        I do think, however, that the various DX clubs are going to take a position on this, within the scope of their own rules.

        73,
        Roger

  7. Peter PB1TT says:

    The above comments are from the dx chaser viewpoint, but does this rule change also apply to the dx station ? In that case it would be possible to set up a remote controlled station at e.g. the Norwegian base at Bouvet, and to operate it all year round from your armchair in the northern hemisphere.

  8. Roger says:

    Peter PB1TT

    You ask an interesting question. If you take the rules for DXCC at face value then I guess it is OK to set up a station on some rare DXCC entity and run it remotely from anywhere in the world.

    I think the ARRL has said in effect, “we don’t want to get in the middle of the situation with remotes. We are going to leave it to the amateur community to sort this out. There could be some ethical issues but we are not going to say what situations are or are not ethical.”

    I don’t necessarily disagree/agree with any specific set of rules. However, I think the ARRL is abdicating control of the DXCC. So to fill the vacuum DX clubs are going to have to step up and take some stand regarding remotes since the ARRL is evidently not going to do it.

    I hope this does not lead to atomization (and ultimately weakening) of the DXCC program which for many decades has been the premier operating award in amateur radio.

    At the core of the issue is that the ARRL is a “bottom up” organization and it is trying to avoid being in the line of fire from any of the various ham constituencies which are beginning to weigh in on remotes with various conflicting viewpoints.

    It is interesting to note that the ARRL Directors decided to not take the advice of the DXCC Advisory Committee to set up a limit on the distance between the control point and the transmitter/receiver.

    Also, in the name of transparency, I admit that I’ve changed my mind on remotes over the last several months. At first I agreed with the DXCC Advisory Committee’s recommendation to have some type of distance limit between remotes and control points.

    Then I changed my mind and suggested that a “more equitable situation” would be to have a separate class of DXCC awards for remotes — just like we now have for various bands and modes. There is more difference between “remote” and “non-remote” than there is between say 20m SSB and 15m SSB. We have a separate DXCC for 20m that is different than a DXCC for 15m. So what’s wrong with one or more DXCC awards for “remote” such as MIXED remote, DXCC 20m remote, DXCC SSB remote?. At first maybe we could start out with DXCC MIXED remote and add other remote awards based upon demand.

    73 Roger K5RKS Oklahoma City

  9. John - VE8EV says:

    Every once in a while the ARRL is forced to choose between the old and the new. They stayed on the wrong side of the code/no-code debate for far too long and it cost them a lot of support. This one is really a no-brainer if for no other reason than restrictions on control point location are virtually unenforceable.

    The idea of a remote station at some rare location like Bouvet is… interesting. I’m not sure how I feel about that. On the other hand, if someone from (anywhere) wants to remote into (anywhere) and use those contacts for some sort of wallpaper how does that affect me? I choose to work from home BECAUSE it’s difficult. Someone else, for many very valid reasons, might make a different choice. What’s the harm in that?

  10. Rob - W8MRL says:

    I believe the rule changes are good. The issue of guys lying about their location, will come up from time to time. But , if someone is lame enough to use a remote site and then log the contact as being from their home, so be it. Unfortunately, there are many unethical people in the world. For those that log appropriately, then more power to them and I hope they have fun.

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