Amateur Radio Information
Bob, a member of the Delaware Lehigh Amateur Radio Club, explains that the KE3AW plate shown here (click for larger image) is described as a "two by two" call sign. There are a number of other formatting variations that can be seen by clicking on the link below. Some of this is dependent on license levels — Technician, General and Amateur Extra. Successive license level allows the use of additional bands and frequencies.
So you will see "2x3," "2x2," "2x1," "1x2," and "1x3," patterns. Never more than 5 letters; never more than one number, except where a suffix is used on a license plate, which is not a part of the call sign.
Bob also commented on the use of the -1 suffix occasionally seen on an Amateur Radio license plate. He states that the person with a call sign such as KE3AM may have the call sign on a vanity plate at first, not an Amateur Radio plate, then chooses to register the call sign on a second vehicle this time on an Amateur Radio plate. This time the plate is issued as KE3AM-1.
While it is permitted, hams are not required to change their call signs when they move from region to region, nor when they upgrade to a higher license level, so the use of the call sign in determining precisely in which region the ham lives, or what level of license he/she holds was in the past able to be determined, no longer is possible to do. Likewise, there is no clue in the call sign regarding where the person lives within a region. Call signs are assigned by the FCC as the eligible applications are received, with no concern given to the location within the region. Finally, hams also can request amateur radio vanity call signs (which can become their vanity plates). For example, W3BUD was, in fact, "Bud." Often it is just the person's initials in the suffix. Below are two images from Pete, call sign NL7XM, a call sign brought into PA.
The map below is a "Worked All States" map, which shows the call sign regions and the states each region encompasses. Region 1 is New England States, Region 2 is New York and New Jersey, and Region 3 is Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware, etc. Generally used in the voluntary challenge to make (at least) one contact with another ham in each of the 50 states. Hawaii and North Dakota are the most difficult because of distance in one, and sparsely in the other.
For anyone interested or curious, there is a short 2 minute video, shot at Louise Moore Park, of our Amateur Radio Field Day, 2013 with explanation of the event in Northampton County:
Here's another link to American Radio Relay League (ARRL):
Images and photos are always welcome. Please send to:
John McDevitt, Walnutport, PA