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Per §97.103, one is responsible for the proper operation of one's station, which of course includes that no unlicensed person uses it to transmit.

I have heard suggestions (no link handy, sorry) of taking actual physical security measures such as keeping HTs and critical components with oneself or in locked boxes, or inserting key-switches in the power connections to transmitters. While effective and not infeasible, this seems like overkill to me outside of the presence of children or other unreasonable people.

Is there “good amateur practice” about a sufficient standard of prevention? Is it sufficient for me to rely on my judgement that the people I live with wouldn't do such a thing, nor permit guests to?

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I may be wrong, but might one part of this be the exact meaning of "station" in context? After all, in amateur radio, it's you as an individual who is licensed, not your equipment. Of course, that would imply that you are legally required to take steps to ensure others do not use your call sign without your permission, which could be kind of hard... – Michael Kjörling Feb 22 '14 at 16:07
@MichaelKjörling I haven't seen a formal definition, but the impression I've gleaned is that “my station” is whatever equipment I choose to use. But, saying that it's not mine while it's in my house but I'm not using it seems a little bit gerrymandered. I'd be interested to hear about that topic, but preferably with actual references (whether to law or consensus) rather than speculation. – Kevin Reid AG6YO Feb 22 '14 at 16:27
Like I said, I may be wrong. I'm not even in the US. – Michael Kjörling Feb 22 '14 at 16:47
up vote 6 down vote accepted

That depends largely on your environment. If you have a separate room, and guests, children, and others are unlikely to enter, and more unlikely to touch anything if they do enter, then it's probably fine to simply leave your radio on and tuned into your preferred frequency 24/7 with the key or mic on the desk.

If you need to leave it in the living area with a multitude of children and guests around who have little social conditioning that tells them not to touch things that aren't theirs, you'll probably want to switch your output to the dummy load, turn the transmitter to receive only, turn it off, and put away or otherwise hide the key, microphone and other controls as you are able, and turn off the power strip. It would take some knowledge to set up the station so it would transmit, and at that point you might as well have that person tested and then you won't have to worry.

Of course you could lock it up behind a door if you had significant concerns about this, but I haven't yet run across anyone that felt this level of security was necessary for the purposes of preventing unlicensed transmissions. Usually the lock and key people would put their equipment under was primarily due to concerns of theft for thousands of dollars of radio equipment.

If you do have any specific concerns, describe your environment more specifically in terms of location, traffic, people who might have access to it. You'll probably receive may ideas on how to secure your station while still keeping it easy for you to use.

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The first time I read "have that person tested", I thought you mean tested for insanity. :) – Phil Frost Feb 23 '14 at 18:09

As a licensee, you are being trusted to use your best judgement of the situation.

Do you need to lock up your station?

If you look at the FCC enforcement actions in you will notice that most of the actions are warnings. I would think that if you had children, and your child was found talking on the radio without your supervision or a license, you would (a) realize that you had better educate your child, and (b) could go to the expense of locking things up as a good faith response to a warning from other hams or the FCC.

People who are fined either had multiple warnings or are usually alleged to have done something egregiously wrong, such as interfere with a genuine distress call or transmit profanity at children or organized nets. When fines are given out, they tend to be many thousands of dollars.

Please note that this is not intended as legal advice. I am not a lawyer and I do not know your particular situation. This is a general observation from the tone of the FCC enforcement website and my 25 years as a ham. The tone of enforcement could always change in the future.

How to lock up?

A used, enclosed 19-inch equipment rack can often be found fairly cheap.

A friend of mine has an enclosed rack cabinet about 7 feet tall in his garage. The cabinet encloses two HF radios, a VHF all mode, a UHF all mode, amps for VHF and UHF, a tuner, a rotor control, a 50Ah 12V battery, various switchwork, and a solar charge controller. It also has a keyboard and flat monitor in a slide out drawer.

And.. I believe it has a lock on the front.

Most people, though, don't go to this extreme. One advantage is that it is not too obvious what might be in the cabinet when it is locked, although I suppose a locked cabinet with wires going inside might still look interesting to a thief.

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Thank you for the interesting suggestion, but this answer seems to be mainly about how to lock up a station, which is not what I am asking. – Kevin Reid AG6YO Mar 1 '14 at 15:48
I added a bit at the beginning to deal with this. – Paul Mar 2 '14 at 0:12

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