Lesson 1

Watch the video above and then read the text lesson.

Welcome to Lesson 1 of the Amateur Extra license course. In Lesson 1, like the Technician and General courses, the initial lesson’s focus is on the FCC rules related to your license level.

20 questions from this lesson will appear on the exam.

Operating Standards and Frequency Privileges

As an Amateur Extra, you will get more privileges on HF bands. Let’s start by focusing on the frequency privilege questions.

On the 60-meter band, instead of the traditional band configuration, amateur radio operators have access to 5 channels.

60-meter band breakdown

The carrier frequency of a CW signal must be at the center frequency of the channel to comply with FCC rules for 60-meter operation. 

This graphic shows the channels in the 60-meter band, with center frequencies at the top. The lower band edge for the channel is shown at the bottom.

A data emission on the 60-meter band may operate with a maximum bandwidth of 2.8 kHz.

More of the Amateur Extra privileges are near the edges of the band. Your transceiver displays just one number for the signal. On a lower sideband, your transceiver will display the upper edge of the frequency. On upper sideband, the number you see is the lower edge of the frequency spectrum you are using.

What if you hear a DX station calling CQ on 3.601 MHz LSB? Your transceiver is displaying the upper carrier frequency of phone signals. So, don’t answer with a lower sideband signal of your own. Your 3-kilohertz signal would cover 3.598 to 3.601 MHz, which is outside the band. It’s illegal to return the call using lower sideband on the same frequency. That’s because the sideband components will extend beyond the edge of the phone band segment.

The lowest frequency at which a properly adjusted lower sideband emission will be totally within the band is 3 kHz *above* the *lower* band edge. 

This process is similar for upper sideband. Your radio will display the carrier frequency.  On USB that shows the lower edge of the band.  A radio with a 3 kHz bandwidth USB signal operating on 14.348 MHz would be illegal. That’s because that signal would extend to 14.351 MHz meaning the upper 1 kHz of the signal is outside the 20-meter band. 

Let’s do the same thing for a USB signal using data modes. On the 20-meter band, the maximum legal carrier frequency when transmitting a 2.7 kHz wide USB data signal is 14.1472 MHz. That’s because the phone segment starts at 14.150 MHz.

For digital voice or slow-scan TV, 3 kHz is an acceptable bandwidth for transmissions made on the HF amateur bands.

Let’s look at the Modulation index. For angle modulation, the highest modulation index allowed at the highest modulation frequency below 29.0 MHz is 1.0.

There is a specific rule about spurious emissions. That is an emission outside the signal’s necessary bandwidth that can be reduced or eliminated without affecting the information transmitted.

Below 30 MHz, the mean power of a spurious emission must be at least 43 dB versus the mean power of the fundamental emission. 

An external RF power amplifier must satisfy the FCC’s spurious emission standards when operated at the lesser of 1500 watts or its full output power. Only then will it qualify for a grant of FCC certification..

There is also a rule about the sale of amplifiers. A dealer may sell an external RF power amplifier capable of operation below 144 MHz that has not been granted FCC certification. But, only if the amplifier is constructed or modified by an amateur radio operator for use at an amateur station.

The 630- and 2200-meter bands are recently added privileges for U.S hams. So several questions focus on operating here. Let’s go through them.

The 630-meter band is 472-479 kHz and lies just below the AM broadcast band, which starts at 530 kHz. The 2200-meter band covers 135.7-137.8 kHz and is longer in wavelength than the 630-meter band.

These bands have unique power restrictions. On the 630-meter band maximum power is 5 watts EIRP  (equivalent isotropic radiated power), except in some parts of Alaska. On the 2200-meter band your max power is 1 watt EIRP (equivalent isotropic radiated power).  

The entire band may be used for phone emissions when operating in the 630-meter band.

The 630- or 2200-meter bands require a registration before you transmit. Operators must inform the Utilities Technology Council (UTC) of their call sign and coordinates of the station. This ensures there is no interference to essential unlicensed operations in those bands. We have a link to the UTC registration form in the written lesson if you need it.

There is an apply and wait element to this. First, you notify the UTC of your intent to operate on the 2200- or 630-meter bands. Then wait, because if you don’t hear back, you are good to go. Operators may operate after 30 days providing they have not been told their station is located within 1 km of PLC systems using those frequencies.

Before this part of the band was formally adopted, amateur use here was experimental. For experiments outside current rules, the FCC may issue an amateur station a Special Temporary Authority or STA. An STA is to provide for experimental amateur communications.

Spread spectrum communications are a way to extend communications broadly across a band. In amateur radio, this is only allowed on some VHF and above bands.  So, be aware spread spectrum transmissions are permitted only on amateur frequencies above 222 MHz.


Let’s recap what we covered in this lesson. With more privileges come more rules, and we touched on rules related to frequency use, equipment, general operating procedures and international operating. We also covered how Volunteer Examiners and RACES groups support the hobby.

Be sure to read the accompanying lesson and take the quiz before moving on to Lesson 2 which goes deeper into operating modes.

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