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Amateur Radio Info & Exams - General Regulations 2 - Power, Data, and Volunteer Examiners

In the absence of a geographical or band specific power limits the maximum power permitted is 1500 watts PEP, this applying to all grades, except Novice licence holders, and Technicians on HF.

PEP is Peak Envelope Power, and is normally used when discussing Single Sideband, signals, which are very peaky. However, the FCC applies this to things like FM and CW, where the RMS equals the RMS power. In the latter cases, this is 12 times the power, or 10.8 dB above, the 125 watt limit for these modes in VK.

There is however a rule that only the power needed to make the contact should be used. People on the other side on the continent don't want to hear you discussing your internal disorders with the bloke down the road!

Note that some power answers include "output", to indicate that power is measured at the output connector on the radio, but also to differentiate from the historic method of multiplying the final stage supply voltage and current, and providing a limit based on this "input" power. While you may lose a little power in the feedline, you can use antennas with gain, possibly generating the equivalent of multiple kilowatts in one direction.

The alternative is EIRP or ERP, the latter, effective radiated power, meaning that on 60 metres you may only radiate 100 Watts into the dipole feed-point, or another arrangement which results in the same power being radiated.

5 MHz channel layout
This illustrates the first of the 60 metre channels. 5330.5 kHz is the dial frequency on a typical Amateur rig, also the frequency of the suppressed carrier. 5332 is the government name for the channel, and the centre frequency of the allocation for that channel. As you can see, the blue section, representing spectrum in which emissions are permitted, is 2.8 kHz wide. This means the audio frequency is 100 to 2900 Hertz, although more usually it would start at around 300 Hz.

Baud Rates

In the US, as a hang-over from a 1980 rule, there are limits on the baud-rate, meaning the number of symbols per second. It is however possible for each signal transition to represent more than one bit, so if there are 4 different phase angles, or 4 different tones, then there are 2 bits per baud, so for 300 baud the throughput can be 600 bps.

80 - 12m300
6 & 2m19.2k
1.25m & 70cm56k

Above this data rates are unrestricted.

Volunteer Examiners

Once an Amateur has passed the General paper, as you, dear reader hopefully will soon, they can apply to become a Volunteer Examiner (VE). This application is made to a Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC). There are a number of these, the largest being ARRL/VEC. There is no need to be a member of any club or group (including ARRL), nor can they you precluded from being registered with a VEC on the basis of being a member of a club; nor because of race, sex, religion or national origin.

Currently the main VEC which is working with VEs in Australia is the ARRL/VEC. Three VEs, including myself have joined GLAARG, but have not run exams through them, as ofn April 2022. The Laurel VEC has several teams in Europe.

To become a VE, you apply to the VEC. FCC Certified VECs are listed on the National Conference of Volunteer Examiner Coordinators (NCVEC) site, on this page. A few of note are the large ARRL/VEC; Laurel VEC, which provides exams without fees; and V5YI-VEC. Your author has recently joined GLAARG, the Greater Los Angeles Amateur Radio Group VEC.

Location or nationality does not matter, only the licence grade held (General or above), and being 18 years old, or greater. If you are outside the US, you should provide your actual address, not the one you use for your licence, as ARRL/VEC and GLAARG send you a laminated badge with your details on it, and when you are lead or liaison VE, exam paperwork. While much of the paperwork can be printed locally, using "Exam Tools" software, CSCEs must be on the provided multi-part forms, or via the new electronic forms. I recommend using the multi-part Candidate Roster, and the multi-part Test Session Report.

FedEx envelopes and labels (on the ARRL/VEC account) can also be provided, or you can claim back the postal charges. Try: AusPost Calculator

To run an examination three VEs must observe the exam, initial the paper, and sign off on the Certificate of Successful Completion of Examination (CSCE). To administer a Technician exam the three VEs must hold at least General licences. To run tests for people seeking a General licence or upgrade, they must hold Advanced or Extra licences; and for Extra, be Extras.

While administering exams, you may have candidates who present with an expired licence, or evidence of it, beyond the two year grace period for renewal. Depending on the time since the licence expired, the typical path is passing the Technician paper, Element 2, then applying the credit for the expired licence. Those who had a General or Advanced can apply for a General licence. Those who held an Extra can apply for an Extra. For those getting a General by doing Element 2, there is also the option to sit Element 4, and potentially gain an Extra.

Refering to the question, one of the distractors refers to Amateur or Commercial licence, but in the US a commercial licence (also gained by passing a test on technical matters and procedures), does not cut the mustard for getting a ham licence. While certain callbook entries can also be used, there is, as far as I know, no requirement for it to be published in the USA. What is required is the Element 2 exam pass. The other two options mentioned are just distorted versions of two of several options to prove the previous licence grant.

Off the exam, the other procedure you may have is the "Administrative Upgrade". While many will have taken advantage of this in the past, if you are the pioneering VE group in your non-US location, you may get these. If a US amateur moved to Perth, got his VK6 (or VK7, there is a Perth is Tassie too) call, and dropped his US licence, but then sat a Technician to operate in a visit home in around 2012, this visit pre-dating the concession to old General, Advanced, or Extra operators, he or she may present at a session with evidence of the expired licence, and their current licence on FCC "basket-weave" paper, or an Official Copy from the ULS. The other case, also not mentioned in the exam, is those with an expired Technician licence issued before March 21, 1987. As the Technician was more challenging back then, there is a credit for Element 3, thus a person who for some reason did not take advantage of the upgrade in the past may present with a scan of a 1967 or later callbook, a letter from the FCC (or their archive contractor), or other evidence of the old call, and their current licence. A fee is still charged, but no exam need be sat. That said, the fee does also allow an attempt at the Extra paper. A currently unlicensed person with evidence of an expired "old" Technician licence can also sit the modern Tech paper, and gain a General.

Should you wish to view the regulations and procedures regarding this, see this ARRL page. Most old callbooks can be found here: Internet Archive - Callbooks

If you are able to take advantage of this, I suggest you continue to review the current regulations, then search for an exam session near your location.

If this has saved you study, you might want to use my Tip Jar (US$2).

Another option is to use the credit, and to expend your efforts on obtaining an Extra licence.

Several VECs are now providing online exams, with video supervision, due to COVID.

Relevant Questions

These are actual questions from the General exam.

G1C01 [97.313(c)(1)]
What is the maximum transmitting power an amateur station may use on 10.140 MHz?
A. 200 watts PEP output
B. 1000 watts PEP output
C. 1500 watts PEP output
D. 2000 watts PEP output

In common with Technicians on their limited HF allocation, the power on this band (30 metres) is 200 watts PEP, so answer A.

This helps avoid interference to non-Amateur stations outside the US.

G1C02 [97.313(a),(b)]
What is the maximum transmitting power an amateur station may use on the 12-meter band?
A. 50 watts PEP output
B. 200 watts PEP output
C. 1500 watts PEP output
D. An effective radiated power equivalent to 100 watts from a half-wave dipole

In absence of a specific band-related limit, the power limit is 1500 watts, answer C.

G1C03 [97.303(h)(1)]
What is the maximum bandwidth permitted by FCC rules for Amateur Radio stations transmitting on USB frequencies in the 60-meter band?
A. 2.8 kHz
B. 5.6 kHz
C. 1.8 kHz
D. 3 kHz

This is 2.8 kHz, answer A.

G1C04 [97.313(a)]
Which of the following limitations apply to transmitter power on every amateur band?
A. Only the minimum power necessary to carry out the desired communications should be used
B. Power must be limited to 200 watts when using data transmissions
C. Power should be limited as necessary to avoid interference to another radio service on the frequency
D. Effective radiated power cannot exceed 1500 watts

You must only use the power necessary for the communication, to avoid causing interference to other stations who may wish to use the frequency in other areas, answer A.

G1C05 [97.313(c)(2)]
Which of the following is a limitation on transmitter power on the 28 MHz band for a General Class control operator?
A. 100 watts PEP output
B. 1000 watts PEP output
C. 1500 watts PEP output
D. 2000 watts PEP output

On the long-standing bands, including 10 metres, Generals and above can use the default 1500 watts PEP, answer C.

G1C06 [97.313]
Which of the following is a limitation on transmitter power on the 1.8 MHz band?
A. 200 watts PEP output
B. 1000 watts PEP output
C. 1200 watts PEP output
D. 1500 watts PEP output

On the long-standing bands, including 160 metres, the default 1500 watts PEP applies, answer D.

G1C07 [97.305(c), 97.307(f)(3)]
What is the maximum symbol rate permitted for RTTY or data emission transmission on the 20-meter band?
A. 56 kilobaud
B. 19.6 kilobaud
C. 1200 baud
D. 300 baud

A rate of 300 baud applies on the HF bands, except 10 m, so the answer is D.

Instead of regulating the bandwidth, as in many countries, but the number of times the emission changes per second is regulated.

G1C08 [97.307(f)(3)]
What is the maximum symbol rate permitted for RTTY or data emission transmitted at frequencies below 28 MHz?
A. 56 kilobaud
B. 19.6 kilobaud
C. 1200 baud
D. 300 baud

It is 300 baud, answer D.

G1C09 [97.305(c) and 97.307(f)(5)]
What is the maximum symbol rate permitted for RTTY or data emission transmitted on the 1.25-meter and 70-centimeter bands?
A. 56 kilobaud
B. 19.6 kilobaud
C. 1200 baud
D. 300 baud

For these bands it is 56 kilobaud, answer A.

G1C10 [97.305(c) and 97.307(f)(4)]
What is the maximum symbol rate permitted for RTTY or data emission transmissions on the 10-meter band?
A. 56 kilobaud
B. 19.6 kilobaud
C. 1200 baud
D. 300 baud

10 metres is the broadest of the HF bands, probably giving the same spectrum to Generals as all the remaining actual HF bands. Thus several wider modes are permitted, including data at 1200 baud, answer C.

G1C11 [97.305(c) and 97.307(f)(5)]
What is the maximum symbol rate permitted for RTTY or data emission transmissions on the 2-meter band?
A. 56 kilobaud
B. 19.6 kilobaud
C. 1200 baud
D. 300 baud

Up to 19.6 kilobaud is permitted on 2 metres, answer B.

G1C12 [97.303(i)]
Which of the following is required by the FCC rules when operating in the 60-meter band?
A. If you are using an antenna other than a dipole, you must keep a record of the gain of your antenna
B. You must keep a record of the date, time, frequency, power level, and stations worked
C. You must keep a record of all third-party traffic
D. You must keep a record of the manufacturer of your equipment and the antenna used

You must record the gain of your antenna is you use something other than a dipole, answer A.

G1C13 [97.309(a)(4)]
What must be done before using a new digital protocol on the air?
A. Type-certify equipment to FCC standards
B. Obtain an experimental license from the FCC
C. Publicly document the technical characteristics of the protocol
D. Submit a rule-making proposal to the FCC describing the codes and methods of the technique

If you have invented a new protocol you must publish its characteristics, so it is not considered encryption, answer C.

G1C14 (C) [97.313(i)] What is the maximum power limit on the 60-meter band?
A. 1500 watts PEP
B. 10 watts RMS
C. ERP of 100 watts PEP with respect to a dipole
D. ERP of 100 watts PEP with respect to an isotropic antenna

A power equivalent to that producted by 100 watts into a dipole, answer C.

G1C15 (D) [97.313]
What measurement is specified by FCC rules that regulate maximum power output?
B. Average
C. Forward

This is peak envelope power, PEP, answer D.

G1D01 [97.501, 97.505(a)]
Who may receive credit for the elements represented by an expired amateur radio license?
A. Any person who can demonstrate that they once held an FCC issued General, Advanced, or Amateur Extra class license that was not revoked by the FCC
B. Anyone who held an FCC issued amateur radio license that has been expired for not less than 5 years and not more than 15 years
C. Any person who previously held an amateur license issued by another country, but only if that country has a current reciprocal licensing agreement with the FCC
D. Only persons who once held an FCC issued Novice, Technician, or Technician Plus license

A person with an expired General, Advanced, or Extra can get credit, answer A.

G1D02 [97.509(b)(3)(i)]
What license examinations may you administer when you are an accredited VE holding a General Class operator license?
A. General and Technician
B. General only
C. Technician only
D. Extra, General and Technician

General grade VEs can only administer Technician papers, answer C, for Charlie.

G1D03 [97.9(b)]
On which of the following band segments may you operate if you are a Technician Class operator and have a CSCE for General Class privileges?
A. Only the Technician band segments until your upgrade is posted in the FCC database
B. Only on the Technician band segments until your license arrives in the mail
C. On any General or Technician Class band segment
D. On any General or Technician Class band segment except 30-meters and 60-meters

For operation, you are Authorised General, so can operate on all segments a person with a General licence in the ULS can, answer C.

Being able to administer exams requires the licence to be in the ULS. Don't wait for anything to arrive by mail - it will NEVER happen!.

G1D04 [97.509(3)(i)(c)]
Which of the following is a requirement for administering a Technician Class license examination?
A. At least three General Class or higher VEs must observe the examination
B. At least two General Class or higher VEs must be present
C. At least two General Class or higher VEs must be present, but only one need be Extra Class
D. At least three VEs of Technician Class or higher must observe the examination

Three VEs are needed to run an exam, and to be a VE you must be a General or higher, not a Technician, so answer A.

The term "present" is not appropriate, as either the Alaska remote examination procedures, or the COVID era remote exam system allow VEs to observe the candidate electronically.

G1D05 [97.509(b)(3)(i)]
Which of the following must a person have before they can be an administering VE for a Technician Class license examination?
A. Notification to the FCC that you want to give an examination
B. Receipt of a CSCE for General Class
C. Possession of a properly obtained telegraphy license
D. An FCC General Class or higher license and VEC accreditation

They must have their General licence listed in the ULS, not just be Authorised General, and be accredited by a VEC, answer D.

Notification is given to the VEC, not the FCC!

G1D06 [97.119(f)(2)]
When must you add the special identifier "AG" after your call sign if you are a Technician Class licensee and have a CSCE for General Class operator privileges, but the FCC has not yet posted your upgrade on its website?
A. Whenever you operate using General Class frequency privileges
B. Whenever you operate on any amateur frequency
C. Whenever you operate using Technician frequency privileges
D. A special identifier is not required as long as your General Class license application has been filed with the FCC

This applies when using General frequencies, answer A.

G1D07 [97.509(b)(1)]
Volunteer Examiners are accredited by what organization?
A. The Federal Communications Commission
B. The Universal Licensing System
C. A Volunteer Examiner Coordinator
D. The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau

Most functions relating to licensing are delegated to VECs, so it is the Volunteer Examiner Coordinators which accredit the VEs, answer C.

G1D08 [97.509(b)(3)]
Which of the following criteria must be met for a non-U.S. citizen to be an accredited Volunteer Examiner?
A. The person must be a resident of the U.S. for a minimum of 5 years
B. The person must hold an FCC granted Amateur Radio license of General Class or above
C. The person’s home citizenship must be in ITU region 2
D. None of these choices is correct; a non-U.S. citizen cannot be a Volunteer Examiner

As for all persons wanting to be a VE, a person who is not a US citizen they must hold an FCC General or higher Ham licence, answer B.

Your author is a VE who is not a US citizen, resident, or "Green-Card" holder. The licence grade is the only relevant factor. Also, the exam generally does not use questions containing a false premise.

G1D09 [97.9(b)]
How long is a Certificate of Successful Completion of Examination (CSCE) valid for exam element credit?
A. 30 days
B. 180 days
C. 365 days
D. For as long as your current license is valid

A CSCE is valid for 365 days, answer C.

This is primarily a hang-over from the days of Morse testing, where a person might attend on session to do their Morse, and then do their written exam(s) at a later session, or vis-a-versa. It does allow someone to do one paper at a session, and then do the following one at another session, before applying for their licence or upgrade, really only useful if you have a near miss on the second paper, and can go back a week or so later. Otherwise you may as well apply for the upgrade or licence you have qualified for, then, if you wish, get a vanity or new systematic call for your upgrade, although you can, say, start on HF with the /AG suffix before doing the Extra paper.

The other use may be for when a candidate has prepared for the Extra, but not this paper, so only passes the higher paper, or only passes Tech and Extra. The CSCE can be issued for the Extra paper, and candidate can go home to study for the General, and then use both the pass at the second session, and the CSCE for Extra to get the Extra licence or upgrade.

G1D10 [97.509(b)(2)]
What is the minimum age that one must be to qualify as an accredited Volunteer Examiner?
A. 12 years
B. 18 years
C. 21 years
D. There is no age limit

A person must be the 18, answer B.

What is required to obtain a new General Class license after a previously-held license has expired and the two-year grace period has passed?
A. They must have a letter from the FCC showing they once held an amateur or commercial license
B. There are no requirements other than being able to show a copy of the expired license
C. The applicant must be able to produce a copy of a page from a call book published in the USA showing his or her name and address
D. The applicant must pass the current element 2 exam

A person who has let their General or Advanced licence expire can obtain a General licence by sitting Element 2, the Technician paper, answer D.

This question was altered in the period between the pool being initially published, and its coming into use. I suppose it is hard to include the content of a table occupying ⅔ of a page. The expired licence must be a General or Advanced Extra, or a Technician with proof of validity before March 21, 1987. If Extra was held, a Technician exam allows this to be re-obtained.

Note that if you hold a current Technician, presumably obtained before July 21, 2014 when ths rule came into force, and have proof of an expired higher grade licence, or the old Tech one mentioned above, you can be upgraded without an exam, by providing this evidence at an exam session, and paying any session fee.

On to: Regulations 3 - Station Control

You can find links to lots more on the Learning Material page.

Written by Julian Sortland, VK2YJS & AG6LE, March 2022.

Tip Jar: a Jefferson (US$2), A$3 or other amount / currency. Thanks!