Although officially only stations holding Special Amateur licences were permitted to operate on wavelengths above 200 meters (frequencies below 1500 kilohertz), after the war many general amateurs interpreted "200 meters" very loosely. This would become an even more important problem when the new broadcasting service was formally set up at the end of 1921, in the very part of the band into which some careless amateurs were drifting.
Radio Amateur News, April, 1920, page 548:
Two Hundred Meters and What It Means
By PIERRE H. BOUCHERON
IN a recent article the writer attempted to convey to the general radio amateur what may be called the ethical side of the game; that is, he tried to point out the necessity for applied common sense in reference to present day amateur operating conditions. At the same time he briefly outlined a constructive plan of action, hoping that a word to the wise was sufficient. Since then, however, notices from various parts of the United States and particularly from thickly populated radio traffic centers, such as New York, Philadelphia, Boston, New Orleans, San Francisco, Los Angeles, have been received, showing that a considerable number of amateurs are rather lax in the manner in which they tune their transmitters. Broadly speaking it would seem that the small number of ten out of every hundred transmitters are tuned on the happy and safe side of 200 meters. The average amateur transmission wavelengths seem to run nonchalantly from 250 to 375 meters. This condition is rather deplorable, as such excessive wavelengths are altogether too close to commercial and official traffic, and may eventually result in drastic laws negative to the welfare of the amateur. For this reason, let us indulge in a straight-from-the-shoulder talk. First, let us review some of the most important existing laws and regulations concerning amateur operation.
(a) General amateur stations are restricted to a transmitting wavelength not exceeding 200 meters and to a transformer input not exceeding 1 k.w.
(b) When within five nautical miles of a Naval or Military radio station, the transformer input is limited to but ½ k.w.
(c) A licensed first grade amateur must be able to receive at no less than ten words a minute, counting five letters to the word.
(d) At present local government radio inspectors frequently "listen-in" to the activities of amateurs and when they hear any one transmitting above the lawful wavelength of 200 meters immediately warn them if it is the first offense, or impose a fine of $25.00 on the second offense. When the Department of Commerce ruled 200 meters for amateur use, it meant 200 meters and not 300 to 400 as some seem to think. Watch your step, young gentlemen, and do not overstep the bounds of safety.
In erecting your aerial, remember that in order to secure effective transmission at 200 meters, its natural period must not be much over 160 meters. Do not expect to keep within the law if you exceed this limit. If you wish to experiment with long wave, long distance reception by all means do so, but do it on a separate long wave receiving antenna. The writer suggest that you carefully read articles which appear from time to time on antenna design and construction. Above all, be up to date upon this important subject.
There is an erroneous impression among some amateurs, who really ought to know better, that much greater distances can be covered by employing wavelengths above 200 meters. This is entirely wrong, for just as good results may be secured on 200 meters or less. The reason many amateurs do not find this so lies with the receiver and not the transmitter. Many amateurs design their receivers for long wave, long distance reception and few pay any attention to the efficient reception of 200 meter wavelengths. If a receiver is properly designed for short wave reception, making it possible for the operator to effectively tune down to 200 or 175 meters, he will discover that just as good results will be possible. Perhaps some of you do not know that dependable undampt transmission is now being accomplisht between New York and Boston amateurs on the comparatively low wavelengths of 150 and 175 meters by the use of Vacuum tubes. In view of this fact do not let anyone misguide you into the belief that much greater range can be obtained on 300 than on 200 meters.
It is a simple enough matter to tune your transmitter to the proper wavelength. There is nothing very complicated about a wave meter and a very effective one may be constructed without very much difficulty or expense providing, of course, it is properly and accurately calibrated at the start by the use of another one of standard calibration. If you do not care to trust some one else's home-made instrument, one may be purchased at a very reasonable figure. Write to any well known manufacturer and ask for price quotations. The advertising pages of RADIO AMATEUR NEWS are filled with reputable dealers, while text pages frequently give the construction and calibrating data on this important and valuable instrument. As a matter of fact, every radio amateur should possess a wave meter and should be proficient in its use. Employ it as often as the occasion seems to warrant it, for a slight alteration in your transmitting hook-up may change your wavelength considerably one way or the other. When you have increased or decreased the inductance or capacity of your oscillating circuit, do not resort to the time worn practise of calling your nearby friend and asking him for a correct estimate of your wavelength. He cannot give it to you unless he is equipt with well calibrated measuring instruments. At best, he will only guess at it. A very recent guess of this kind proved to be a mere 100 meters out of the proper and lawful amateur wave length of 200 meters. On the other hand do not overdo the tuning process by placing a "brick" on your transmitter key, as the saying goes, and try out all possible wavelengths on the scale.
Another important factor is that of sharp tuning; in other words, the primary circuit of your oscillatory system should be in resonance with the secondary or aerial circuit, which in general means a loose coupling (the degree of which is determined by the use of the wave meter) as distinguisht from close coupling. At the present day, there is altogether too much close coupling in amateur transmission; the obvious reason for this, of course, being the fact that one believes he may be heard more rapidly. Remember that there is only one lawful excuse for close coupling and it is one not to be used by amateurs. Its application is solely resorted to by vessels in distress and never at any other time. Under such conditions the ship operator tightens the coupling of his oscillatory circuit, producing high damping so that his distress signals may be heard over a wide receiving range.
Be reasonable. Surely the U. S. government is not imposing upon the American amateur when it limits the operating wavelength of your transmitter to 200 meters. Contrast this law to that of Canada, where the limit is placed at 50 meters. As a Canadian amateur recently remarked "With this short wave we may consider ourself fortunate indeed to cover the extraordinary distance of one mile!" As for democratic England, the would be amateur is simply "out of luck," for no license or permission is at present even obtainable under any condition. From the foregoing, we may therefore deduce the timely moral: Keep your transmitter on the lawful side of 200 meters.