INFO - You Are Ultimately Responsible For Station and Conduct

Irrespective of under what license/licensed use category you operate radio equipment (‘station’), irrespective of whether you are end user of provided equipment or you establish/maintain/operate the ‘station’, you are ultimately responsible for how it’s used, whether it’s fit for use operationally speaking, and for being obligated to act on any (irrespective of how genuine you believe of it) any issues or complaints and within what your licensed use allows, rectify or seek assistance to do so.

For a technical level user (defined by license, not your personal level or perception of ability), this means you are obligated to investigate as far as you can legally, any issues you discover about your station or come to light (as notified by others) that may or may not affect the integrity and operational conformity and stability of your operation. This will require effort on your part and is mandatory as much it is if you are formally cautioned or actioned to rectify a situation officially.

You are ultimately responsible and where you find it’s beyond your capability, you seek competent assistance to further rectification - ignorance or lacking the ability to sort it yourself is no defense for continuing at odds with the dilemma.

As a non technical grade user, you are obligated to seek certified and authorised assistance since in most categories of non-tech licensed use, aside from replacing plug in feeders/feeder patch cords or in-line (in the feeder) permitted functional items, it’s a black box situation.

You may be permitted to do limited antenna adjustment, siting adjustment or resonance adjustment where the permitted item has manufactured adjustment for this purpose, but otherwise, if it can’t be unplugged and substituted by permitted replacement without breaking into the ‘black box’, you’ll need to seek certified assistance to rectify.

Clearly there’s a Grand Canyon sized difference between the extent in which you can and be expected to instigate rectification actions, between technical licensed and nontechnical grade licensed users, but the responsibility to act upon and action rectification measures is common and absolute to all.

If you are a technical grade licensee, and are asked to assist with rectification measures or to assist with investigating an issue, most tech licenses obligated you to assist in as far as you can without interfering with TA certified operation or status of the equipment - however, if you are a certified technician/engineer currently permitted to test/repair and recertify such equipment and have the means, you can offer to resolve a black box fault or break the seal to internationally investigate and rectify. You’ll need to recertify it as repaired and (where fixed) operating back to factory certified state before you reconfigure it back to operational users-permitted operational configuration.

But regardless of what license you operate under, if you can’t immediately rectify the matter and need to seek rectification measures, you are also obligated to cease using it on-air until you can without causing undue issues that may be caused by the fault condition. If it ends up being decommissioned/condemned (where your use of requires certification/TA compliant equipment) then it’s game over - you’ll either need to accept alternative legally usable alternative methods or replace at your cost.

Where the situation is due to a potential interference issue, you’ll be legally obligated to instigate rectification where you are the source and the affected aren’t victims of inherent design weakness in receivers or electronics.

But, in most countries and regions I have operated in, you are not legally required to (at your cost) instigate rectification and a solution that fixes their half of the problem where it’s a 50/50 situation or entirely of their equipment fallibilities. You meet your legal obligation in such an instance by aiming to help them resolve their half of the problem (where practical and feasible), informing them of the situation and who to contact if they believe there is a valid case entirely due to your operation.

If you are seen to be making due efforts, and at least do what’s reasonably practical, if a formal agency instigates an investigation, you’ll be on the right side of acting responsibly and it’ll be accounted for where the agency actions against you.

Where they, formal investigators, cannot determine or see you made any effort at all and are partially or fully at fault - they are entitled to act as though you intentionally avoided taking action or disregarded your responsibility.

Where an issue regards conduct and use rather than a technical matter - without a doubt and unquestionably, you are legally and morally and ethically responsible for good conduct and usage of the station, whether it’s you operating or allowing a qualifying guest user to use your station.

As a precaution, aside from the common sense aspect of assessing letting any individuals or groups use your station, it’s in your interest to permit (where you do) under supervision and preferably your supervision. You may choose to recognise that one of the guest users may qualify as a suitable supervisor - but if in doubt on any level, do your own supervision because you’ll be liable to actions (where actioned) where the station is abused.

So regardless of your license and grade of operation, there’s a lot more to your responsibility than signing a license and selecting the right channel and knowing what button does what on your equipment.

So beware, be in the loop in as far as the above stuff is applied in your region (I tried to keep it as generic and universal as practical) and keep within the guidelines and mandates that you are expected to comply with.

In other words, if your station is causing a problem them stop using that station till the problem is solved. If your station is not the cause of a problem, then let ‘them’ cure their problem.

Yes, to the part about closing down your station when you know there is an issue that’s known to now be a problem that’s having a consequential effect, or you become aware you may be causing a problem to other User Sevices or other in-band users, If you get wind of a complaint, no matter how unlikely or improbable or demonstrated, you act with necessary due caution and either restrict your operations until it can be resolved so you cease to cause the supected issues until you can verify whether the ‘cause’ is due to your station setup or inherent weakness/vulnerability in the afffected other user equipment - this where where you start a systematic diagnostic process which includes testing your own equipment as was used under dummy load and test conditions. If you aren’t noticably creating a problem there, it boils down to proximity/field density issues creating a blocking or ‘desense’ issue with other nearby radio equipment, field density related with inherent weakness in affected other equipment etc.

Both of those can be, unless it’s an extreme case, minimalised by reducing the ERP/ERIP of your station. Where it’s out of band emissions, applying a combination of in-line filters and moderation of emitted ERP/EIRP usually solves this.

Clearly there are more combinations and contributing factors that obscure the root cause, so it may not be simple to just do, but you’ll do yourself many favours and keep the peace by (pending a practical rectification) reducing or ceasing operations depending on the scale of the problem as you become aware of it.

But as a technical-grade operator (as are all Ham Radio licensees), in the event of it not actually being your problem to resolve (i.e. inherent weakness in their equipment), you are (and it’s actually within the scope of station maintenance and due precautions) really looking at at least attempting to explain what the actual problem is and why it exists and how the affected user can potentially resolve their side of the problem (the problem itself may actually exist, but the user service operator causing it may not necessarily be you) whilst offering some guidance on how they can legally pursue rectification actions on the part of the actual User Service operator who subsequently may end up being identified during your assistance to voluntarily aid solving the victim’s problem.

Just remember, where you are not actually at fault and subsequently liable, to ensure the victim respects and realises your assistance efforts are a goodwill gesture, that you are not under obligation to do anything beyond telling them where they can seek assistance but are willing to help them (as far as is practical) to aid resolution - inform them that subsequently any cost involved is their’s to bear and no, it’s not fair practise in this type of situation to exploit it by charging for your time.

If you just become aware of it, an issue you realise will affect them (not of your making) or they seek assistance from you knowing you do radio stuff, i’ll simply say ‘listen to your conscience’.

I mean, i dread to think of how many HPF’s i’ve constructed to aid other people in solving their issues that didn’t involve faults on my station (which i avoid because i test stuff to death before it ever goes near an antenna) and other suchlike junk-box fixes at my cost, but i put a higher value on being able to operate in peace and have goodwill amongst my neighbours and locals than what the junk-box components cost me. But even when it’s a matter of just assisting solving someone else’s problem, if it can be fixed out of goodwill effort then i’m willing to voluntarily try to assist where practical.

You literally can’t put a value on goodwill, and let’s face it, in the Ham world - we get a reasonably quiet and peaceful life because we are prepared to go the extra mile or six to keep it that way in a friendly manner.

But a narrow “not my problem, it’s yours…” effective ‘FO’ response and attitude to someone else’s actual problem does nothing, and actually makes matters worse because if the problem escalates, it’s very likely a narrow and selfish dismissal of the problem can end up looking like you are not taking it seriously and give them ammo to further point the finger when matters escalate.

As any operator should know, ham or otherwise, unless you are just meeting a routine formal assessment (spot check) of your station obligation, you don’t want anything on the record added officially to indicate issues encountered beyond a routine spot check sign-off or sign-off of a voluntary rectification precaution employed that you wanted formally signed off.

Whilst not doing anything you are not mandated to do, resolution of a problem wise, isn’t a breach of any rules or scheduled requirements (that i’ve encountered), it does no harm to be seen to actively assist where you can to help resolve someone else’s actual problem - even if it’s just for advice purposes.