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Update to Permitted Equipment for Amateur Use

Date : 04 / 08 / 2015
Author : Roger Harrison - VK2ZRH

Sometimes a radio amateur is unsure of the type of transmitting equipment they can possess. This doubt may arise as the result of ACMA compliance activities involving station inspections, for example.

The WIA has successfully argued to the ACMA that compliance issues are, in almost all cases, one of behavior (illegal acts), rather than defining compliance with what type or classes of equipment a radio amateur may possess or operate.

Every amateur licensee needs to read and understand the Amateur Licence Condition Determination (LCD Link ). This sets out, in detail, the conditions under which licensed amateurs can operate their stations. The term 'operate', for the purposes of the LCD, means to cause a transmitter to transmit or cease to transmit.

In Australia, the ACMA has powers to make Standards (technical specifications) for radiocommunications equipment under the Radiocommunications Act 1992. However, the primary tenets of the Amateur Radio service are technical investigation, experimentation and self-training; hence, Australian Standards for radiocommunications equipment are not applicable to amateur stations.

There are no specific standards for equipment that is manufactured specifically for the world-wide amateur market. Note, however, there are some general technical conditions that apply to every amateur licence, and these are found in the LCD.

Put simply:
  an amateur transmitter, while required to meet certain technical standards in the LCD, does not have to comply with an Australian Standard, or be ‘type approved’;
  an amateur (other than a Foundation licensee) may build a transmitter;
  an amateur (other than a Foundation licensee) may modify a transmitter built for other services, so that it can work on an amateur band or bands; and
  all amateur licensees must operate any transmitter in accordance with the LCD, or any other condition printed on the licence issued to them.

Therefore, no matter what amateur licence (Foundation, Standard or Advanced) you hold, you may possess any piece of equipment manufactured specifically for the global amateur market, provided that you operate it in accordance with the type of licence you hold, even if the item of equipment is capable of operating in certain spectrum segments that are not available to amateurs in Australia.

A Foundation licensee may build or modify transmitting equipment to operate on the amateur bands for their own self-training, but can not operate it. Such equipment can only be operated by an amateur holding a licence appropriate to the equipment's capabilities.

Foundation Licence, permitted equipment
Essentially, the Foundation Licence is an operator licence that requires a minimum of technical knowledge that will allow safe operation of amateur radio equipment.

A Foundation licensee can only operate (that is, transmit with) commercially manufactured amateur equipment, is restricted to defined frequency bands and emission modes set out in the LCD, and is limited to 10 watts transmitter output power.

Allowed Equipment for Standard and Advanced licensees
As the radio amateur has a licence, during an ACMA station inspection the presumption is that the possession of radiocommunications equipment is for the purpose of operation (that is, transmitting). But if the item of equipment can be operated in accordance with the licence type, or modified to operate in accordance with the appropriate licence conditions, the possession cannot be unlawful, in the absence of other evidence.

An Advanced or Standard licensee may modify a transmitter manufactured for another service that is subject to a 'Standard' (technical specification), but in doing so, the equipment becomes what is known as ‘Non-Standard’ and therefore cannot legally be used outside amateur radio spectrum. Modification means removing or altering components, including the microphone, as well as changing firmware or software features that existed when the device complied with the Standard for another service.

Prohibited Equipment
Should equipment manufactured for the amateur market be modified to operate outside amateur spectrum, it cannot lawfully be operated on the Citizens Band, Maritime Band, Land Mobile or other bands, as equipment used by these services is required to comply with specific Australian equipment standards.

It is expected that all radio amateurs will act in a responsible manner (behaviour), and comply with their individual licence conditions as set out in the LCD.

See also Station Inspections, at this Link

If you have a question on the use of radio equipment on the amateur bands, please send an email to the setting out your question or concerns.

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