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There are some contests such as ARRL's Field Day that provide special categories or points for contestants who operate using emergency or battery power. The 2016 FD rules for "Class A - Battery" stations include this text:

All contacts must be made using an output power of 5 Watts or less and the power source must be something other than commercial power mains or motor-driven generator (e.g.: batteries, solar cells, water-driven generator).

The same text is included for "Class B - Battery" stations. The text for "Class E" stations is different:

Same as Class D, but using emergency power for transmitters and receivers.

On first glance, this would imply that "Class E" stations -- but not "Class A - Battery" or "Class B - Battery" -- can use commercially-powered equipment such as computers for logging or digital modes such as PSK31, as long as all transmitters and receivers are using emergency power. Is this an appropriate interpretation of the rules?

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from ARRL: Q. What equipment at our Field Day site must be operated off of the emergency power in order to claim the 100-point per transmitter bonus? A. You must operate all transmitting and receiving equipment from emergency power. If you use a computer for digital modes, and/or to control or operate the radio, it also must use emergency power. If the computer is used only for logging and is not keying the transmitter, it does not need to be emergency powered.

http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Field-Day/2019/1_62-2019%20FD%20FAQ.pdf

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to ham.stackexchange.com! Great first answer! $\endgroup$ – rclocher3 Jun 29 at 15:12
  • $\begingroup$ It is clear to me that I was not the only ham wanting clarification -- and while it took the ARRL several years to come up with the FAQ (and answer), I'm glad they did! Thank you @KC7FCW for your answer! $\endgroup$ – Jack Twilley Jul 6 at 21:34
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Where I see the word commercial is in relation to electrical power only.

In other words, when you are not on commercial power you can be on batteries, solar, whatever, but clearly off-grid.

It is called emergency power to imply that it is the setup you would use if the whole power grid went down.

It includes all devices from computers to radios, officialy.

Unofficially, it also includes the TV you might set up for the kids.

If you have a cord running to your table it is very good to have it visibly disconnected.

It is a lot of fun! When so many people are on the air you can work an amazing number with a QRP rig and a good dipole.

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    $\begingroup$ I think you have taken the question to be about whether computers are allowed (if not, please clarify your answer), but the question is actually about whether the power source for the computers must meet the same rules as for the power for the radios. $\endgroup$ – Kevin Reid AG6YO Jun 2 '17 at 3:27
  • $\begingroup$ Got it. TNX, @Kevin. $\endgroup$ – SDsolar Jun 2 '17 at 6:49
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For class A battery stations the following rule applies:

All contacts must be made using an output power of 5 Watts or less and the power source must be something other than commercial power mains or motor-driven generator (e.g.: batteries, solar cells, water-driven generator).

The key here is if a computer is in any way used to make the contact.

Logging software is not required to make contacts. Therefore, the way the rule is worded, a computer used only for logging ought to be allowed.

Now if a digital mode is being used, or SDR software that controls the radio, that would be a no-no because the computer would be involved in making the contact.

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  • $\begingroup$ If I understand you correctly: for the battery classes, computers supporting SDRs or digital modes better have battery backups or be running on well-charged laptops! Since the home class explicitly calls out transmitters and receivers as requiring power instead of anything facilitating the making of contacts, that interpretation would therefore allow computers for SDRs and digital modes to use any kind of power. Do you agree? $\endgroup$ – Jack Twilley Jun 3 '17 at 0:38
  • $\begingroup$ @JackTwilley My answer was solely about class A stations. I added a line to the top to clarify that. $\endgroup$ – Mike Waters Jun 3 '17 at 16:39

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