ARRL Clean Signal Initiative on the horizon

By Dan Romanchik, KB6NU

In recent message to his Northwest Division membership, Mike Ritz, W7VO, described a new program that he’s gotten the ARRL to take on—the Clean Signal Initiative. He writes:

After a few months gathering support from the amateur community for the project, the ARRL Clean Signal Initiative (CSI) is finally getting off the ground. The Board’s Programs and Services Committee approved the concept several months ago, and since then I have been canvassing some of the best known RF engineers in amateur radio to get their support and input.  As a result, the team will be conducting our first Zoom call next week to lay out the next steps for the project. All I can say at this time is that there are some amateur radio “heavy hitters” behind this, and I believe will be a game changer for the ARRL.

For those that may be unaware of this project, here is a synopsis (or at least my vision):

  1. The CSI gets the ARRL formally in the “technical standards” business.  (Other technical organizations already do it: IEEE, UL, ASTM, and SAE, and others.)  The ARRL currently tests new products to informal standards, with no real hard benchmarks for manufacturers to meet, other than the minimal standards outlined in FCC Part 97.307.
  2. Creates and incorporates documented “best practice” standards and testing methodologies to ensure commercial amateur radio transmitters and amplifiers meet not only minimum FCC requirements for signal cleanliness, but push the envelope.
  3. These new standards can be “home grown”, or passed through the IEEE, but I think it’s important they be also branded as “ARRL Technical Standards.”
  4. Test new commercial transceivers and amplifiers against these standards.
  5. Certify the transmitters and amplifiers that pass the standards: “CSI certified by the ARRL.”
  6. Work with manufacturers to ensure compliance of those that don’t. (Market pressure will drive this.)
  7. Market the program to the amateurs through QST.
  8. Work with manufacturers and social media experts to create training materials to teach hams how to set up their equipment to ensure the cleanest transmitted signals. (This education part is key!)”

Rob Sherwood, NC0B, of Sherwood Engineering, who is most well-known for his ranking of receiver performance (, is part of this effort. You can see a video of a talk that he gave recently to the Sutton & Cheam Radio Society by going to Also on the committee is Ward Silver, N0AX. 

Based on my knowledge of how IEEE standards committees work, I stressed that the initiative should make every effort to get as many stakeholders—including manufacturers and users—involved as possible. Involving so many people may be cumbersome at times, but standards require consensus for them to be effective, and the only way to do that is to get everyone involved. I’d suggest that if you feel that you have something to contribute that you contact Mike directly. His email address is          ARRL Clean Signal Initiative on the horizon


Dan Romanchik, KB6NU, is the author of the KB6NU amateur radio blog (KB6NU.Com), the “No Nonsense” amateur radio license study guides (https://KB6NU.Com/study-guides/), and often appears on the ICQPodcast ( When he’s not worry about how clean his signal is, he operates CW on the HF bands and teaches ham radio classes.