AM & SSB: A ‘Gentlemen’s Agreement’

Need a Hand 0 Comments 09/15/2019 

Online Petition to ARRL

Click the link above to leave your name and call if you wish to support Bob's plea.

Hello to my friends and Directors of the ARRL,

I noted with pleasure that the ARRL Board has passed a motion addressing HF data bandwidth.

For many years, there has been an outcry from HF AM operators to have the ARRL Board address the situation of the original ‘Gentlemen’s’ agreement that was set up – basically from the stations that operated AM. In the mid 50’s, SSB became more in use, the “wars” began and I can attest, personally that there were actual wars. I was not a part of the physical ‘wars’ but knew some that did get involved. All of this came to the end when both sides met and formed a ‘Gentlemen’s agreement which – at the time, the ARRL helped to adopt and publish the agreement. Everything became calm. The two modes worked side by side, respecting each other.

The ‘agreement ‘ on 75 meters was originally 1.885 – 1.900, 3.870 – 3.890. 7.290 – 7.295. 14.280 – 14.290 This ‘Gentlemen’s’ agreement worked for more that a decade but as new license holders came on the scene, they knew nothing of this verbal agreement as the ARRL no longer published or admonish the original ‘Gentlemen’s’ agreement. Little was said of it – nor the need. If they did publish, one had to dig deep to find any of the information about the AM window. To answer some of the complaints , the ARRL set out to publish their own band plans… however most of the times the band plan is published, the AM Window is never mentioned…. Perhaps just a calling frequency. The DX windows, the SSTV windows have all been rewarded the strength of the ARRL to help publish their operating window and helped to keep those published and policed. Why has the ARRL not continued what was set forth back in the late 1950’s ?

With the advent of the newer transmitters and SDR equipment that all work beautifully on AM, there is a resurgence of the mode joining the scores of vintage operators that have been operating in those windows for many years….. usually having to put up with many unruly operators that could care less about a’window’. Little is published or talked about from the ARRL, so why should they worry? The respect of other operators has certainly dwindled. The other issue of maintaining these windows, is that new operators are invited to join an entirely new form of Amateur Radio communication. Without your help, AM operation sometimes become a vast wasteland of SSB operators that feel they can land anywhere, thus causing very unwelcome places to operate. Each of us work hard to bring young operators onto the frequency bands, but I know – first hand that when some of these brilliant, inquisitive young minds are looking into modes that have never worked they sometimes discover some very unpleasant conversations. All of this can be corrected by publications, articles and some policing by the new Volunteer Observers organization. Without the help of the Board of Directors to maintain this ‘Agreement’, the VOO have no ’teeth’.

I, along with many AM operators truly believe that if the Board of Directors would address THIS situation as they have the data bandwidth situation, it will further the development of new operators to join fellow AM operators and brings yet another aspect of Amateur Radio without conflict.

I look forward to being of any help to bring the ‘Gentlemen’s Agreement’ back into play.


Dr. Bob Heil, K9EID


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