Standards vs. conventions


From: Bruce Muscolino (
Date: Thu Feb 21 2002 - 09:17:47 CST

Once again, I have taken a shot here, it has caused me to think
thought. We throw around words like "Standards" without really ever
thinking much about what they mean and how they are applied.

A standard is something that can be objectively measured and MUST be met
by all manufacturers. There is a one volt standard maintained by NIST.
It is well defined and anybody can build one like it, but in order for
their units to become "secondary standards" they must be traceable to
the NIST.

There is no such standard for the S unit.

A convention is similar to a standard but is not maintained by any
organization and manufacturers do not have to meet it! We have a
tendency to use the two words interchangeably. There is a convention
describing the S unit. Any manufacturer may choose to meet it or not.

In industry we have calibration labs that continually calibrate our test
equipment to secondary standards that are in turn calibrated against
primary standards, periodically. If we make a measurement with a
calibrated instrument we can say it is so much. On the other hand if we
make that same measurement with an uncalibrated instrument we cannot
make the same statement. Is there a difference in the measurements?
There might be, and there might not!

Our QRP frequencies are conventions, not standards. There is no
requirement to be exactly on a QRP frequency to run QRP!

Maybe we should treat the S unit as a convention, not a standard!


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