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Consider the text of 47 CFR § 97.203 - Beacon station, with the following scenario:

Sally is a radio operator turning her station into a part-time beacon. She is class Extra and is allowed in all of the portions of each of the bands. Sally places her beacon in the middle of the ten meter band.

Is Sally in violation of this regulation, subsection (d) in particular?

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    What part of (d) are you confused about?
    – Jon Custer
    Jul 10, 2023 at 13:34
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    Amateur Radio might be a better place to ask questions about the application of laws related to this activity.
    – Barmar
    Jul 10, 2023 at 14:57

3 Answers 3

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The key part of (e) is the National Radio Quiet Zone that covers parts of east-central West Virginia and west-central Virginia. Because of radio telescopes and military intelligence equipment in the area, there are restrictions (increasingly strict as you get closer) on potential radio interference. A radio source that would be no problem in most of the world can be a major problem when you are trying to pick up a radio signal from a few billion light-years away.

So if Sally is in the National Radio Quiet Zone, she has to notify the National Radio Astronomy Observatory who will consider the power, location, etc. of the proposed beacon, and determine if it will potentially interfere with the radio telescopes before granting permission. If they grant permission, Sally is fine. Otherwise the FCC will decide what Sally can do.

If Sally is outside the National Radio Quiet Zone, then (e) doesn't apply.

So more information is needed before we can know if Sally is legal or not, but as a general rule: Outside the National Radio Quiet Zone, probably ok, inside it, will have to ask for permission.

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  • I edited the question Jul 10, 2023 at 10:10
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    @BenMadison Don't edit questions in a way that invalidates existing answers. If you accidentally asked the wrong question, and it has been answered, you may ask a new question. (Before you have received an answer, it's usually fine to make edits like this.)
    – wizzwizz4
    Jul 10, 2023 at 13:49
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Looking at another paragraph in 47 CFR Part 97 we find § 97.101 which states

(a) In all respects not specifically covered by FCC Rules each amateur station must be operated in accordance with good engineering and good amateur practice.

The principal organization for US amateurs is the American Radio Relay League, and they publish a band plan which calls for beacons in the 10 meter band be in the range 28.200-28.300 MHz, which is not the "middle" of the 10 meter band. If Alice were to establish a beacon in a way not in accord with the band plan, it's possible that the FCC Regional Director might exercise the authority under 97.203 (f) and order Alice to cease operating the beacon.

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97.203(d) works together with 97.109(b) through (d):

(b) When a station is being locally controlled, the control operator must be at the control point. Any station may be locally controlled.

(c) When a station is being remotely controlled, the control operator must be at the control point. Any station may be remotely controlled.

(d) When a station is being automatically controlled, the control operator need not be at the control point. Only stations specifically designated elsewhere in this part may be automatically controlled.

If Sally is operating a beacon outside of the frequencies designated in 97.203(d), 97.203(d) doesn't authorize automatic control.

Given that none of the other provisions for automatic control apply (97.201(d), 97.205(d), and 97.221 don't seem like they apply in your scenario), the station must be locally or remotely controlled. Sally (or another licensed operator designated by Sally) needs to be present and monitoring the station while it transmits. Walking out of the room and leaving the radio alone would be a violation.

Given that a control operator is present then it would seem that this section is satisfied even while beaconing outside of the beacon subbands, however 97.101(a) and 97.101(b) could certainly be an issue as pointed out by Gerard Ashton.

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