I think that ham radio organizations should use an RFC (request for
comments) mechanism when trying to agree on standards and contest
rules. This seems to have worked fairly well for the various internet
protocols. It also gives a good place to go for the documentation.
As a case in point, I was reading about the Cabrillo format in QST and
noticed it uses fixed field length records. I am no expert on very small
data bases, but I would have thought that fixed length records for the
input format were a well known bad idea when it's hard to know all the
possible inputs and you aren't trying to squeeze out the last byte.
According to the QST description, the call sign field is 10 characters
in the Cabrillo format. If I use WB7XYZ's station who happens to have
a tech plus license, and use her station outside the tech plus bands,
I would be required by the FCC to sign:
which seems to be beyond Cabrillo's SS capabilities. (I realize that I
am about to get e-mails from people explaining to me various ways to
circumvent the FCC regulations so that I use either WB7XYZ or W9CF for
my call and do fit in the limited call sign space.)
I would think a mechanism to allow a wide dissemination of an RFC and a
careful review of comments would more likely find these sorts of mistakes
before a standard is adopted rather than a less formalized "let's ask
our friends" approach that appears to be the norm in ham radio.
This would also work well for contest rule changes.
73 Kevin w9cf
Kevin Schmidt, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://fermi.la.asu.edu/w9cf
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-1504
(480) 965-7954 (FAX)
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