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Chapter Two: The ARRL Technical Organization

Chapter Two: The ARRL Technical Organization

2.1 General

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) states in Part 97 of its rules that the Amateur Radio Service is responsible to maintain its signals within certain technical standards. It is necessary to define technical standards, such as the types of transmissions authorized on specific frequencies, maximum power and clean transmissions, to keep order inside the amateur bands. The FCC is also concerned about advancing the state of the technical art as well as minimizing radio frequency interference (RFI).

The ARRL, in turn, works hard to inform amateurs and aspiring hams about these technical standards, advances, and RF1 cures through ARRL publications like QST, QEX, and The ARRL Letter. In particular, the League provides training through various technical programs which most suitably are handled by the Technical Coordinator (TC) and Technical Specialist (TS). TCs and TSs have sufficient know-how to handle the technical (including RFI) questions that are presented to them. If they don't find answers themselves and can't get answers elsewhere in the field (neighboring TSs, for example), ARRL Headquarters can provide technical backup.

2.2 Field & Educational Services (F&ES) 

ARRL Field Organization is responsible for the guidance and administration of the TC and TS, as it does for all Section- and Station-level field volunteers. The Field Organization, however, is not staffed to handle technical matters, and may call upon the Technical Department for staff assistance in those areas. F&ES also supplies the TC and TS with forms and training materials necessary to effectively do the job.

2.3 Technical Department (TD)

Within the ARRL Technical Organization, the focal point for technical activities at ARRL Headquarters is the Technical Department (TD), under the supervision of the Technical Department Manager and Deputy Manager. TD support or assistance includes: administering policies as delineated by the Board of Directors and giving advice where requested. Here's a partial list of the ARRL Technical Department's specific activities:

  1. Serve as technical editors for QST. The ARRL Handbook and a number of other ARRL books and publications.
  2. Edit QEX newsletter.
  3. Manage the Technical Advisor program, serve as Headquarters' assistants for the Technical Coordinator and Technical Specialist programs.
  4. Handle review of new products for publication in QST as a member service.
  5. Test equipment prior to acceptance for advertising in QST.
  6. Develop (hardware and software) projects for publication which can be duplicated by members.
  7. Act as staff advisors on technical matters such as RFI.
  8. Conduct technical liaison with the FCC, ARRL committees, and lots more.

Technical questions received by the Technical Department from individuals in the field are screened by a TD secretary trained to sort questions into the following three categories:

  1. Questions to be forwarded through F&ES to the TC or TS for them to answer.
  2. ARRL publications questions to be retained in the TD for review and answers.
  3. Impossible-to-answer questions, the category of "we don't know the answer and expect the TC or TS won't know either, but think someone out there in radioland knows." These "toughies" are published in QEX for possible answers. When you have information to share in technical activity areas, whether you have problems or questions, suggestions or criticism, the Headquarters Technical Department staff is always glad to hear from you.

2.4 Section Manager (SM) 

An ARRL Section Manager (SM), who is elected by the ARRL full members in a particular section, is the overall manager or boss of all ARRL Field Organization activities in that Section. This includes technical activities, emergency communications, message traffic, volunteer monitoring, affiliated clubs, public information, state government liaison, and on-the-air bulletins (see The ARRL Field Organization web page for further details). The SM appoints section-level assistants to administer the specialized functions. The Section Leadership Appointment for technical activities is the Technical Coordinator. Some SMs may also choose to appoint Technical Specialists themselves or may delegate this duty to the TC. The name, address, and phone number of each SM in the 70-Section ARRL Field Organization appears every month in the first few pages of any recent QST. If you need guidance on a particular Amateur Radio matter, don't hesitate to consult with your Section Manager.

2.5 Technical Coordinator (TC)

The ARRL Technical Coordinator (TC) is a section-level official appointed by the SM to coordinate, organize and conduct all technical activities within the Section. The TC must be an ARRL full member holding a Novice class or higher amateur license. There is only one TC appointed in each section. The Technical Coordinator is directed by and reports to the Section Manager and is expected to maintain contact with other section-level appointees as appropriate to ensure a unified ARRL Field Organization within the section. The duties and programs of the Technical Coordinator are described in Chapter Three.

2.6 Technical Specialist (TS)

The ARRL Technical Specialist (TS) is a station-level official appointed by the SM or TC to a specific area of jurisdiction or expertise, and is responsible for working with many individuals and clubs within the section to answer technical questions and solve RF1 problems. The TS must be an ARRL Full member holding a Novice class or higher amateur license. The objective is to have as many TSs in each section as possible to serve in the main working level of the technical program in one of the most important areas of Amateur Radio-the technical area. In fact, the beginning of FCC Rules Part 97 states that we're responsible to the government for advancing the state of the technical art. With many TSs helping, we'll be making great strides toward a renewed commitment to ourselves, our local communities and the national technical welfare. The TS is directed by and reports to the Technical Coordinator, may maintain contact with other TSs, and works with clubs, individuals and organizations. The duties and activities of the Technical Specialist are described in Chapter Four.

2.7 Wizards and Committees

A Wizard is a very clever or skillful person. Technical Wizards are those busy communicators or dedicated experimentalists who love a particular Amateur Radio subject but, because of their time-consuming devotion, cannot handle correspondence and reports or work with people on a regular basis. Wizards, who do not receive a certificate and are never appointed, might give an occasional club talk though, providing it doesn't include thoughts of being a volunteer, take a considerable amount of their time, or commit them to long-range plans. If you carefully and completely pave the way to let Wizards help you when they can, the results may be well worth the effort and could pave a way for them to receive recognition and support for their behind-the-scenes hard work. Wizards are a bit hard to find, so when you find one, remember-don't let Wizards know they're volunteering. Club committees, made up of members and certain individuals with an interest in technical activities, are the lifeblood of the technical program. If asked properly, some members may step forward to volunteer their help toward implementing technical activities, while others may just need a little encouragement to participate. All of the training, dedication and planning by you is for naught if these committees or volunteers are not actively involved in the technical programs. You can find the ARRL Affiliated Clubs in your area on the ARRLWeb. Special Service Clubs are also available there. Whether it's Wizards or committees, members or individuals, remember that people can be your main resource and are a big help.

2.8 ARRL Training Program Instructor

The ARRL Training Program supports the work of more than 2000 ARRL-registered instructors who use ARRL licensing materials and register their interest with the Headquarters' training staff. Prospective hams in their local areas can be referred to them. In addition, ARRL's Recruitment Program provides guidelines and materials for effective Amateur Radio exhibits and techniques for recruiting new students. Some of these instructors might want to become TSs as well or they can be a natural resource to help answer technical questions. You can get a computer-printed list of ARRL Training Program Instructors in your area from Headquarters.

2.9 Technical Advisor (TA)

Many amateurs confuse the Technical Advisor (TA) with the Technical Coordinator (TC). The big similarity is that they both have the word "Technical" in their titles. But even though a few amateurs may handle both the TA and the TC jobs, for example, there still is a distinct difference in the duties. The TC duties are described in Chapter 3. In comparison, the Technical Advisor must have expertise in his or her appointment area, preferably, engaged professionally in that area of technical expertise. However, persons with equivalent value through formal education, along with some practical experience, are considered.

The TA is appointed by the Technical Department Manager for a term of one year and is subject to renewal at the time of expiration. A TA certificate is issued by the combined agreement of the Technical Department Manager, the League Executive Vice President and the Division Director.

Technical Advisors receive free copies of all technical books produced by the League primarily for the purpose of reviewing the content to point out discrepancies and suggest improvements for the next revisions. They are also asked to review manuscripts which relate to their particular areas of professionalism, assuming the material is questionable in terms of accuracy upon examination by the ARRL editorial staff. TAs are encouraged to give technical lectures at club meetings and conventions, and are reimbursed for their travel when approved by Headquarters. TAs serve also as fountain- heads of information when called upon by Headquarter's personnel and other League officials. It takes a real expert to handle insoluble problems, so at times you may need to call upon a TA for advice in untangling a problem.