500 kHz Experimentation Grows in US, World
In the 500 kHz Experiment quarterly report for the period ending February 2010, Experiment Coordinator Fritz Raab, W1FR, reported that since the experiment began in late 2006, 19 of the 31 participating stations are currently active. The FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology granted the WD2XSH experimental license to the ARRL in September of that year. Raab said that during the quarter, nine new stations were active on the air: "Conditions during the winter were generally good. As a result, there has been a great deal of activity during the past three months."
This quarter -- December 1, 2009-February 28, 2010 -- hams in the WD2XSH experimental group made 36 contacts, bringing the total number of contacts to 404. Almost 1200 reports were made to the 500 kHz experiment's Web site, documenting 8017 hours of activity. Raab said more than 49,000 hours of activity has been logged on the Web site since the experiment's inception. Stations do not have to be members of the experimental team to post reception reports.
Several stations -- WD2XSH/16 in Minnesota, WD2XSH/17 in Massachusetts, WD2XSH/37 in Massachusetts, WE2XGR/2 in Connecticut, WE2XGR/3 in Massachusetts and WE2XGR/6 in New York -- participated in ARRL Straight Key Night on January 1. On February 1, WD2XSH/31 in Vermont and WD2XSH/42 in California completed a QSO using vintage equipment. On February 20, WD2XSH/31 and WD2XSH/5 in New Hampshire also made a QSO using vintage equipment.
According to Raab, several stations are subject to a "QRT Order" for not being current with their log submissions and will remain off the air until they are up to date. "Generally, these stations have an equipment problem or some other problem that keeps them from operating," Raab told the ARRL. "Two stations moved from the location specified on our original license, but are now authorized to operate at their new locations."
Earlier this year, Iceland amateurs received access to 600 meters; they are allowed 100 W ERP and CW only from 493-510 kHz. In March, New Zealand granted amateurs in that country permission to operate on 600 meters using 505-515 kHz with a maximum EIRP of 25 W and a maximum bandwidth of 200 Hz. According to Raab, this is open to any licensed amateur and no special permission is needed. On March 4, Murray Greenman, ZL1BPU, made the first transmission, which was received by R. B. Vernall, ZL2CA. "With the additions of these new privileges, this means we now have amateur/experimental stations operating in all three ITU regions and on frequencies from 493-515 kHz," Raab explained. The countries who have granted 500 kHz experimental privileges are the United States, Sweden, Germany, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Canada, Norway, Romania, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Iceland and New Zealand.
Raab said the WD2XSH experimental group is planning to do more ground-wave tests this summer: "These tests will involve the Midwest stations and several other clusters who produced useful results in the 2008 tests. A number of the new stations are continuing to ready their stations."
Delegates at the upcoming World Radiocommunication Conference in 2012 (WRC-12), will discuss agenda item 1.23 -- "to consider an allocation of about 15 kHz in parts of the band 415-526.5 kHz to the amateur service on a secondary basis, taking into account the need to protect existing services." ARRL Chief Technology Officer Brennan Price, N4QX, calls this agenda item "the highest item on my long term priority list. We are fortunate that this upcoming WRC presents an opportunity for a new secondary allocation in the medium waves. While the outcome is far from certain, our experience in other bands -- most notably 30 meters -- indicates Amateur Radio's compatibility with certain other services as a secondary user."