FCC Proposes Dropping All Morse Code Testing

from “W5YI News” (July 20, 2005)


Aug - Sept 2005                                VOL.  78, NO. 8 -9                                                    CIR 120

On July 19, 2005, the FCC in WT Docket No. 05-235 addressed 18 Petitions for Rulemaking seeking to implement new rules as authorized at the 2003 World Radio Communications Conference (WRC-03). 

Most of the petitions ask that the FCC entirely or partly eliminate the international Morse code requirement.  Some others ask that the current 5 wpm requirement be maintained or that the speed be increased.

In addition, the ARRL and the National Conference of  Volunteer Coordinators (NCVEC) asked that a new entry level class of Amateur operator license be established.  Still other petitioners asked that the current license structure and associated operating privileges be modified.  There were over 6,000 comments filed.

Based upon the petitions and comments, the FCC is proposing to eliminate the requirement that individuals pass a telegraphy examination for any class of Amateur operator license.  The Commission also declined to propose any other changes to the current Licensing or operating rules.

Prior to WRC-03, the international Radio Regulations required Amateur Operators to prove that he/she is able to correctly send and receive Morse code when operating below 30 MHz.  At WRC-03 (held June 9 to July 4, 2003, in Geneva, Switzerland) Article 25 of the Radio Regulations was amended to allow a country to determine whether it would require a person seeking an Amateur Radio operator license to demonstrate the ability to send and receive Morse code signals.

The FCC said that the majority of Petitions ask that all telegraphy proficiency testing be eliminated.  Arguments for abolishing Morse testing included that;

(a.)   the requirement is out-of date;

(b.)   use of Morse code has become obsolete due to satellite and digital communications;

(c.)   Morse code testing is an unnecessary burden on applicants because most applicants never use code on the airwaves.

(d.)   And to the VEs and VECs because these examinations require extensive preparation and special equipment.

(e.)   …and the examination process does not require a practical demonstration in the ability to use any other mode of communication.

      Some petitioners (including the ARRL) asked that Morse code testing be required only for the          AmateurExtraClasss license.

            Article 25.6 of the International Radio Regulations now requires only that countries verify the operational and technical qualifications of any person wishing to operate an amateur station.  The FCC believes that requirement is satisfied by requiring applicants to pass written examinations covering relevant subject matter. Furthermore, the FCC agrees that Morse proficiency is not necessarily indicative of ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art.

Prior to 2000, there was a six-class operator license structure.  In 1999 restructuring proceeding, most commenters asked that the license structure be streamlined and simplified. The Commission agreed and concluded a three-class license structure would provide an incentive for licensees to upgrade.  A three-class operator license structure consisting of the Technician, General, and Amateur Extra Class operator licenses was adopted.  The FCC is reluctant to change that line up.

Recently, several petitioners asked that the FCC authorize additional operating privileges to certain existing license classes, particularly the Technician Class license.  The FCC noted that the current structure of operator license classes and operating privileges was developed so that additional frequency privileges are a significant incentive for amateur radio operators to advance their communications and technical skills. In denying requests for additional privileges, the FCC noted that it has already proposed in the Phone Band Expansion (or “Omnibus”) NPRM (WT Docket 04-140) to eliminate the Novice and Technician Class telegraphy sub-bands and in their place, authorize Novice and Technician Plus Class Licensees to transmit CW in the 80, 40 and 15 meter bands.  If adopted, this would authorize Technician Class licensees significantly more spectrum in the HF bands than the petitioners request, FCC said.

      In the transition to the three-class license structure, the Commission “grandfathered” Novice, Technician Plus, and Advanced Class licensees.  That meant that no new Novice or Advanced Class licenses would be issued.  These licensees would, however continue to receive Morse code examination credit and could renew their licenses indefinitely.  The Commission also decided to renew Technician Plus Class licenses as Technician Class licenses with retained code credit.  At that time, the Commission declined to upgrade Novice and Technician Plus licenses to General Class licensees or to automatically upgrade Advanced Class licensees to the Amateur Extra Class operator license.  In doing so, the FCC accepted the argument that licensees should not receive additional privileges without passing the required examinations.  Both the ARRL and the NCVEC petitions asked that a new entry level with some phone privileges be adopted.  And both proposed a one time automatic upgrade of Technician Class amateurs to the General Class…and the Advanced Class to Extra.  The FCC said that it does not believe that a new type of introductory license is necessary because in the Phone Band Expansion NPRM (if adopted), Novice and Technician Plus licensees can easily upgrade to the General Class, by passing two written examinations, and that a person who is a Technician Class licensee will be able to qualify for a General Class operator license by passing only one written examination.  The FCC said that it is not persuaded to automatically upgrade licensees to higher classes of operator licenses.

            In the last major Amateur Service restructuring, the 1999 Restructure Report and Order, the Commission agreed that the Question Pool Committee (QPC) of the NCVEC should specify topics and organize questions by topic.  Two petitioners wanted improved technical and operating skills and asked that the content of the examinations again be regulated by the FCC.  Another petitioner suggested that licensees demonstrate proficiency in just the types of communications they wish to utilize.  The FCC believes these requests are vague and that the record does not demonstrate that the current question pools or examinations are inadequate.  The Commission suggested that any concerns and new questions be directed to the QPC of the NCVEC.  Accordingly, the FCC declined to more closely regulate the content of written examinations or to require new examinations for “mode privileges.”

            The current rules do not prohibit the VEs from immediately retesting an examinee who has failed an examination.  Two petitioners want to end retesting of examinees at the same examination.  The FCC said that this issue has previously been considered.  In that decision, the Commission stated that matters concerning the mechanics of examination administration generally reside with the administrating VEs, and that whether to allow an applicant a “second chance” during the same examination session is a decision of those VEs.


                                                                                                                                                Page 2 






            The summers are really rough on club activities.  Not just GARC, but all kinds of clubs.  In fact, the LIDXA (NN2C is the Pres, and I am the VP) does not even meet during the summer.  A lot of clubs close up shop.  Too many people are on vacation, and attendance is very sparse.  Also, the weather is so nice on LI during the summer that a lot of folks are engaged in other activities, and don’t make club meetings.  I for one, go walking with my XYL, every evening after dinner, for up to an hour.  WE enjoy our walks, and sometimes I have missed a WAG net because we were still out pounding the pavement.  No, I am not going to carry an HT with me.  That would spoil the mood I was talking about.  It would also interfere with those long cell phone calls she makes to her sister and Mom when we are out walking. That’s the mood I was talking about.  But, this has been the hottest summer for many years, and I’m doing very little actual radio operating.  Part of that is from the extremely poor solar flux numbers we are having due to being at the bottom of the sunspot cycle.  The other factor is the nice weather, and I don’t want to be indoors if I can be outside.  Soon enough we’ll have cold weather, and then I can start planning some antenna work.  I need something better for 40 and 80, and don’t want to make any major investments since I intend to move out of here in another 2 years.  We took a “vacation” in early August and I spoke about this on the 2 meter WAG net.  I also showed pictures at the August meeting.  We rented a “canal boat” in Waterford, and spent 3 days traveling the Erie Canal westbound, and back.  The actual Erie Canal (Clinton’s Ditch) was a huge success in the 1800s, and was subject to numerous upgrades.  In 1905 they decided to tame the Mohawk River.  With a series of dams, flood gates, and locks, they created the NY State Barge Canal, and this was opened in 1918.  They then abandoned the original Erie Canal, but you can see pieces of it in various places along the Mohawk Valley.  Our trip west took us through 12 locks, and then we came back the same way. It was a lot of fun.  I had my 2 meter radio on board, but didn’t make any contacts.   Turns out I was pretty busy all day piloting the boat.  It’s a 41’ steel boat, so the mag-mount worked pretty well.  If you missed the pictures and want to see them, let me know. Next year, we intend to take the same boat northward through the Champlain Canal.

            On another note, you may have noticed that there was no newsletter last month.  There’s lots of reasons, and one of them is that I was away, and we couldn’t have a board meeting.  We also didn’t have repro service here, so we skipped the newsletter.  Hope you weren’t too disappointed.  Also we had a kickoff meeting for HRU 2006.  It appears Gordon West will be the keynote speaker, and the room will be much larger than last time.  I hope that you can attend because it’s a real good learning experience.

            On August 20th we did our operation from the Nantucket Lightship in Oyster Bay.  We ran one radio on 20 and 40, and did quite well.  Probably 50 QSOs for the day, but the bands are generally dead during the day.  We didn’t want yto stay till dark, so we left around 3 PM.  We had fun, as always.  If you worked us (or even if you didn’t) you can get a card via the callbook address for WA2LQO.

          I am on the board for the LI Friends of Wireless.  They have asked me to do a demo of the Tesla Coil at an upcoming meeting of the Sayville Historical Society, so look for that announcement.  At the Sept. Friends meeting there will be a nice presentation about the Telefunken site.  A lot of never-before-seen photos will be shown.  I’ll be there and I think you might enjoy this one also


       Our next GARC meeting is 9/21.  We’ll be at the Bethpage Public Library. – Pat KE2LJ 

                                                                                                                            Page 3   







Pete N2PYV (not present)

The meeting was called to order by Pat at 5:35 PM.



 Finances continue to be in good shape.                    Gordon and Bill, N2NFI, visited the Hauppauge site

                                                                                   and removed  the UPS and replaced it with a new

                                                                                   one. They also changed one connector.                               


VE REPORT – Bob, W2ILP                                  NET REPORT- Zack, WB2PUE

There were four VEs and five applicants                 The Sunday morning 40-Meter net was good.         

present.  Two applicant passed the Technician        last week.

Exam.  The other passed exam parts but did not                  

Upgrade.  VEs present were KB2QFT, KA2GVD,   WAG REPORT-Bob,W2FPF

N2SFT and W2ILP                                                     No activity.       .



Discussed Field Day.  Pat spoke about the score that we claimed.  Working Class 2A, we made

462 CW Contacts for 1848 Points, 406 Phone Contacts for 812 Points and 870 Bonus Points for

a total  of 3530 Points.   Planning for Lightship Day were discussed.  See details in President’s Page.




Pete N2PYV (not present)

The meeting was called to order by Pat at 5:40 PM


VE REPORT – Bob, W2ILP                                  REPEATERS - Gordon, KB2UB

There were six VEs and eight applicants                  The new UPS at the Hauppauge site is

present.  Three applicants passed the Technician      working well.  It may be time to get a new

Exam.  One upgraded to Extra Class. Two passed    controller.

Elements but did not upgrade.  One failed.

VEs Present were: KC2HNN, KB2QFT, AB2NT,    NET REPORT – Zack, WB2PUE

KA2GVD, N2SFT and W2ILP                                  HF propagation was poor on 40-meters.



Preparation and activity for Lighthouse Day (8/20/2005) on the Nantucket lightship was discussed.



Pat showed an extensive group of pictures taken on his vacation, as he piloted a ship through the upstate

NY State Barge Canal locks.  Ham related?  Yep…He had a 2-meter rig on the boat.  Read the detail in           the Presidents Page.             

                                                                                                                                     Page 4



40 Meters: 7.289 MHz at 7:30 AM EST Sundays.

20 Meters: 14.275 MHz at 12 Noon EST Wednesdays.

2 Meters (via repeaters): 146.745 MHz  (-.600)at 8:30 PM EST Thursdays.

                                           145.330 MHz (- .600) at 9:00 PM EST Thursdays.

[Tone for both repeaters is 136.5 Hz]         (ARES/RACES) Mondays



General Meetings of the GARC are held on the third Wednesday of each month, starting at 5:30 PM.   The meetings are usually held at the Underwriters Lab, 1285 Walt Whitman Road,  Melville, NY.  Driving directions and maps can be obtained from http://www.mapquest.com   It is suggested that the GARC Web Site be checked to be certain of meeting location, which may change after this newsletter is distributed. Board meetings are held eight days before the General Meeting and GARC members are invited. to attend, but please call Pat Masterson, KE2LJ, at 516-346-7125 to confirm place and time of meeting.  



The web site of the GARC can be found at http://www.qsl.net/wa2lqo/     Webmaster is Pat Masterson KE2LJ.  Pictures of GARC activities, archives of newsletters, roster of members, and other information about the GARC may be found there.                                                                                                                                    


Internet Link of the Month for Internerds


            I believe that any change to the Amateur Radio licensing structure should be of interest to all hams and that is why I put the information about proposed rule changes on the front page of this newsletter.  Internerds can get the same text from http://www.w5yi.org or the ARRL web site but some of our members are not internerds, and some do not pay much attention to FCC rule making or changes which may not apply to them.

            The internet link of this month thus has to be:


You can read the entire 30 page Notice of Proposed Rulemaking there.

            The FCC said it believed “…the public interest will be served by revising the Amateur Service rules to eliminate the telegraphy testing requirement” for all classes and asked for comment on this premise.  It also said that some rule changes proposed by petitioners are unnecessary, or are already being considered by the ongoing Phone Band Expansion NPRM (Omnibus) proceeding. 

            The FCC proposal to end Morse testing will not become final until the public has had a chance to comment.  The comment date extends to 60 days after publication of the Federal Register which we believe to be about the end of September.  Reply comments must be made within 15 days afterward.  Commenters may file through the ECFS (Electronic Comment Filing System) via the Internet.

            I, W2ILP, would suspect that members of FIST and others who are pro-CW will be commenting.  I don’t think that will stop the FCC from eliminating the CW exam requirement.  I have always been “on the fence” (a mugwump) on the CW exam issue myself.  That is because I understand that Ham Radio means different things, and even different modes, to different hams.  If you do send any comments to the FCC, please send them to me for printing in this newsletter as well.  If not, I guess that we can only sit and wait for the CW exam requirements to be eliminated.  The FCC has said that it recommends doing so.  The earliest possible times for it to officially happen would be January or July of 2006.  I guess there won’t be too many people applying for the 5 wpm CW exam before an official no code decision becomes law.

            The debates over whether to continue to test for Morse code ability have been running on ham chat threads since the Internet began..  Many hams, including even hams who do not operate CW themselves, see the  code tests as necessary hurdles that eliminate those who are not willing to do some hard preparation for ham exams.  The written parts of the exams may be easy since there are fixed question and answer pools to study from.  Obviously they are easy for professional engineers and technicians…BUT do we want ham radio licenses to only be easy for technologists and not for potential high speed CW people?   The choice of this can be boiled down to a choice between the two ”T”s: - Technology and Tradition.  Reducing either is seen as a step toward making ham radio similar to Citizen’s Band.  Are the hams of the future to simply become Citizen’s Multi-Banders (CMBers)?   The ex Vice President of the ARRL, Steve Mendelsohn, when confronted by hams who wanted to retain CW exams said, “Is Morse Code a Religion?”  Some hams blamed the ARRL for just wanting to increase their membership by making entry exams easier.   Many old timers resist changes that they see as being responsible for a reduction of the quality of the future operators just because the ARRL might want more quantity of members.   It is interesting that the ARRL’s recent petition to the FCC asked that a 5 wpm CW exam be maintained as part of the Extra Class exam.  Perhaps this was to placate the old timers and leave the impression that the ARRL wanted to carry on some respect for the CW tradition.   It seems that the FCC wants to do the simplest thing, by entirely eliminating CW exam requirements.   Your editor has long realized that, like it or not, elimination of CW testing is going to happen sooner or later.  The elimination of CW exams will in no way reduce the operation of present day CW operators….BUT eventually the use of the CW sub-bands for manual CW operation will fade away, because new hams will no longer be introduced to this traditional part of the hobby.  I wrote my prediction that there would eventually be no CW exams back in the May 1998 “CQ de WA2LQO”.   At that time I wrote an original poem, which was inspired by “Old Ironsides”.  Oliver Wendel Holms wrote “Old Ironsides”, which was the nick name of the U.S. Constitution, an old war ship, that Holms hoped would be preserved.   I felt that Morse code would be like “Old Ironsides”, by the year 2020, and now I see that my prediction is even more likely to be true.   Here is the Poem:


Ay rip that creaky mode switch out,                                      There are two few CW ops,

No CW shall there be,                                                            On land or on the seas,

We only can use phone to shout,                                            Not even many old grandpops,

On U or LSB.                                                                          For most are silent keys.

But remember when your call was new,                                 Save just a few kay-cees,

Some things you’d not ignore,                                                For hams who won’t send fast,

CW beeped out clear and true,                                                To play with old and rusty keys,

It rang from ship to shore!                                                       An echo of the past.



Here is another cryptogram:














We are continuing to proctor exams for all classes of ham licenses on the second Tuesday of each month, starting at 5:00 PM.


The present exams are: Element 1: 5 WPM CW, Element 2: Technician,

Element 3: General and Element 4: Amateur Extra Class. The fee for 2005 is $14 for all exams taken in one sitting.


Applicants for upgrading should bring a photocopy of their present license and their FRN number.


New, first time, applicants should be aware that their Social Security

number will be required on their application form. All applicants should bring drivers license or other picture ID. The exams are given at the Underwriters Lab in Melville,

unless otherwise noted.   This is the same building where GARC meetings are presently held.


For any further information e-mail: -

[email protected] or phone: - (631) 499-2214


Study material information is available at the http://www.arrl.org or the http://www.w5yi.org web site.


All VECs use the same Q & A pools.


Since the beginning of the VE program the GARC has provided opportunities to take ham exams monthly, during all twelve months of every year.


Bob Wexelbaum, W2ILP

and the Grumman VE team.



                                   Page 7



Aug-Sept 2005

 VOL.  78,  NO.  8-9



Bob Wexelbaum  W2ILP

(631) 499-2214

[email protected]





And all the members of GARC (we hope!)


CQ de WA2LQO is published monthly by the Grumman Amateur Radio Club for its members and friends. Send articles and amateur equipment advertisements to:




If you want to submit articles or amateur equipment ads via e-mail do the following:

1. For submission direct to editor call him at above number to set up a transfer.

2. For e-mail transfer:

Internet Address

[email protected]




The front page of this newsletter was used to post the latest news about a proposed FCC Amateur Radio regulation changes that will eliminate CW exams.   While there is still some small possibility of stopping it, it seems that the FCC believes that CW exams should be eliminated soon.  We do not know for certain if or when, but my hunch is that it is going to happen

Ham Radio has evolved greatly since I first was interested in becoming a Ham.

Ham Radio is a hobby with many facets which, as I always say, mean different thing to different people.


There was no “CQ de WA2LQO” in August due to many who were on vacation and the fact that we had no board meeting.  Thus note that this is a combined August-September Issue.


I enjoyed visiting the Narragansett lightship on August 20th.   I had missed it last year.  They didn’t lower the gang plank, but I was able to creep up a shaky step ladder which ran from the edge of the pier to the edge of the ship.  I’m not as young as I was when I worked for TWA in 1956  and had to repair HF wire  antennas on the tops of Lockheed  Connies via even shakier ladders, but I made it.



w2ilp (I License People)




President               Pat Masterson              KE2LJ              V01-01    516-346-7125

Vice President       Gordon Sammis             KB2UB            Retiree     631-666-7463

Secretary               Peter Rapelje                  N2PYV          Retiree     516-676-0694
Treasurer               Ed Gellender                   WB2EAV         X02-14   516-575-0013

2Yr Board Member    Zack Zilavy               WB2PUE        Retiree     631-667-4628
2YrBoard Member     Dave Ledo               AB2EF

2Yr Board Member   Bob Christen         W2FPF               

1Yr Board Member   Bob Wexelbaum    W2ILP                 Retiree     631-499-2214

1Yr Board Member    Jack Cottrell        WA2PYK              Retiree     516-249-0979

Trustee WA2LQO       Ray Schubnel        W2DKM           Retiree




Meeting Programs       Contact a Board Member

FCC Exam Coord.         Bob Wexelbaum       W2ILP                           631-499-2214





President                       Pat Masterson          KE2LJ             B38-111          346-6316

Vice President               Gordon Sammis        KB2UB           C63-005          575-1846

Secretary                       Peter Rapelje             N2PYV           Retiree            676-0694

Treasurer                       Phil  Simonetti           N2ZED           K10-14            346-8124    

2Yr Board Member       Paul Chalson             WA2FOF       A16-043         224-8153

2Yr Board Member       Howard Liebman      W2QUV         Retiree            433-7487

2Yr Board Member       Martin Miller             NN2C             Retiree            423-8153

1Yr Board Member       Zak Zilavy                 WB2PUE       Retiree            667-4628

1Yr Board Member       Hank Niemczyk         W2ZZE          Retiree            796-3212

Trustee WA2LQO       Ray Schubnel           W2DKM        C31-005          575-5036




Meeting Programs       Contact a Board Member

FCC Exam Coord.         Bob Wexelbaum       W2ILP                                    499-2214





































Sixty Years 1944 -2004

P.O. Box 0644

Bethpage, NY 11714-0644




                                                                                                        FIRST CLASS

                                                                           DO  NOT DELAY



                                 TECHNICAL BITS                


            Last month I wrote about Fermat’s Last Theorem in the puzzle section.  I had promised to print my own solution to that theorem in this newsletter.  Because this is a combined edition, there is no room to print it now, but I intend to get to it into a future newsletter.

            Last month I described a tuned radio frequency receiver (TRF) which could be built with two or three vacuum tubes.

It can also be built with two or three transistors.

            The TRF has limitations that are overcome  by the super-






heterodyne receiver. There      is an important criterion to maintain the same selectivity as we tune across radio bands.  This requirement is impossible to meet using a TRF.  The selectivity of a receiver is its ability to separate stations that are close in frequency.  This requires maintaining a window around the selected signal that is most appropriate for the mode of the signal.  In the TRF receiver the tuned circuits change their inductance to capacitance ratios as we tune.  This L:C ratio determines what is called the “Q” of the circuit.






The  Q is known as the “figure of merit” and it is the deciding factor in determining the shape and width of the receiver bandpass.  The superhetrodyne receiver depends on mixing a local oscillator (L.O.) with the R.F. signal to produce an intermediate frequency (I.F.)  The L.O. is tuned so that it generates a signal that is either above or below the desired R.F. signal by a fixed frequency, which is the I.F. frequency.  No matter what the R.F. input is tuned to, the I.F. thus remains the same.  I.F. tuned circuits thus do not change as we tune across bands and can maintain the same bandwidth and selectivity specifications.  More about superhets next month.

73,  w2ilp