Don’t ask, just do

I was out running errands over lunch and I had my VHF radio scanning the local ham repeaters. It was almost noon, which meant it was time for all of the talking controllers to start telling me the time. It’s a bit annoying – some of these systems only transmit to tell the time, as their users have either passed away or moved away. Even more annoying to me was the fact that none of their clocks were synced to an accurate time source. And then one of the repeaters started rebroadcasting the NWS severe weather outlook for this afternoon.

What may be annoying to me is experimentation and fun for others. I’m sure that the repeater builder that did the NWS radio interfacing had a good afternoon, weekend, or even week of experimentation to get it all to work. And the ham that programmed his custom macros into his controller probably had a hoot getting it all setup and customized.

I got to wondering…are all of these automated and retransmissions legal? This led me down one of my favorite rabbit holes – There I found this posting from WA6ILQ, The article is about weather radio interfacing to repeaters….but the fun part is near the bottom where he quotes an old ham about don’t asking for permission…just go do it.

> The words were "Don't even (expletive deleted) THINK about it".
> As in don't make that (expletive deleted) phone call, don't write
> that (expletive deleted) letter. Just build your wondertoy and use
> it - but do it carefully, and cleanly (as in spectrally clean), and
> make sure that you have your technical and legal arguments worked
> out well in advance. Make sure that you aren't doing the A, B, or C
> that the FCC forbids amateurs to do. If the FCC does't like your
> brand new wondertoy or it's effects or emmissions they will send a
> certified and return-receipt-requested cease-and-desist letter telling
> you to stop doing it. At that point you stop doing it and send a
> registered and certified and return-receipt-requested letter back
> the next day (call in sick to work if you have to). In that letter
> you say "I received your letter on date (X) and at time (Y)
> and at time (Y+5 minutes) I shut off the offending transmitter and I am sorry,
> I didn't realize it was illegal and my thinking was (yadda yadda yadda)
> and (yadda yadda yadda) and (yadda yadda yadda) and how can we resolve this?".
> (and you thought that those creative writing classes in college and
> university were a waste of time...)

Words to live by. In ham radio, don’t ask, just do. And who am I to complain? I can always update my scan list. I’m glad I’m a part of a hobby that lets this stuff happen!

Michael Brown, KG9DW, is a regular contributor to and writes from Illinois, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

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