Mrs. G
Ham Station
Freq. Coord.

The ARRL Official Observer (O.O.)
Excerpts taken from www.arrl.org

Instituted over 50 years ago, the Official Observer program is sponsored by American Radio Relay League (ARRL) and is intended to help amateurs help each other. Official Observer appointees assist fellow hams maintain their transmitting equipment and correct operating procedures in accordance with FCC regulations. The object of the OO program is to notify amateurs, by mail, of operating/technical irregularities before they come to the attention of the FCC. Some say that it is better to receive notification from an Official Observer than to receive a letter from the FCC's Enforcement Division.

The OO performs his function by listening rather than transmitting, keeping an ear out for such tings as frequency instability, harmonics, hum, key clicks, broad signals, distorted audio, over deviation, out-of-band operation, etc.   If detected the OO completes a notification card, mailing it to the station licensee.  Although sometimes viewed as "big brother" or the law enforcement of Amateur Radio, the Official Observer duty is to bring attention to their fellow ham problems that could draw the attention of the FCC which could result in a fine or other legal action against the offending station.  In hard-core rules violations cases, OO's refer problems to higher echelons of the Amateur Auxiliary, and may be requested to gather evidence for possible FCC enforcement actions.

To become an Official Observer, a person must do:

  1. Must take and pass examination to be certified as a member of the Amateur Auxiliary, an FCC requirement, based on study of the ARRL's Amateur Auxiliary Training Manual.
  2. Must be an ARRL Full Member and have been a licensee of Technician Class or higher for at least four years.
  3. Must report to the OO Coordinator regularly on FSD-23.
  4. Maintain regular activity in sending out advisory notices as needed.

According to the ARRL, the OO program is one of the most important functions of the League.

As explained on ARRL's website, the OO is also the backbone of the Amateur Auxiliary to the FCC. OO's are certified in the Auxiliary by passing a mandatory written examination.  As for the exam, let me say that it is not for the faint at heart.  It is extremely technical and very difficult.  Study long and hard before attempting this crucial element in becoming an OO!  As an Official Observer, I can attest to the importance of this program both to keeping our bands safe as well as helping my fellow hams by bringing attention to problems BEFORE the FCC gets involved.  If you have questions about the OO program feel free to send me an email with your questions.  I will gladly address them or point you in the direction of people that can!

Online Application for Station Appointment can be found at http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/forms/fsd187/form.html