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ARRL MW Experiment Coordinator Sees Ongoing Research Role After Hams Gain 472-479 kHz

04/06/2016

The coordinator of the 600 Meter Experimental Group, Fritz Raab, W1FR, said this week that he sees an ongoing role for medium frequency (MF) experimentation, even after Amateur Radio gains access to the new 630 meter band (472-479 kHz). An FCC Report and Order authorizing Amateur Radio access to 2200 meters (135.7-137.8 kHz) and 630 meters is anticipated soon. In his 1st quarterly report for 2016 on the WD2XSH Experimental license work, Raab said that once the new 630 meter ham band is in place, he expects ARRL experiment participants to pursue work in that part of the spectrum under their Amateur Radio licenses. But, he said that more MF research remains, and he would recommend continuing work under the WD2XSH Experimental a while longer, shifting focus to 461 to 472 kHz.

“This will clear the amateur frequencies, while allowing the experimenters to run unattended propagation beacons without using the limited bandwidth that will be available to amateurs.” The current WD2XSH Part 5 Experimental license does not expire until 2020. A substantial community of Amateur Radio operators already conduct experiments using their own FCC Part 5 licenses in the low frequency (LF) and MF spectrum, in addition to the WD2XSH experiment.

Raab this week suggested several possibilities for expanded experimental work in the vicinity of 630 meters without cluttering the limited 7 kHz of spectrum in the soon-to-be-authorized amateur band. Among other things, he envisions work using wider-bandwidth modulation protocols, the use of higher power than the 1 W EIRP expected to be authorized for the new ham band, and commemorative transmissions.

“Eventually, this operation might show that the amateur allocation could be expanded or allowed to use more power,” Raab said.

Elsewhere in his quarterly report, Raab said participation in the February 5-6 end-of-season “Activity Weekend” exceeded expectations, with “a great deal of activity both nights.” This winter’s event followed in the wake of a similar one last fall. “In contrast to the emphasis on CW and historical operations in November, all modes of operation were encouraged,” Raab said. “We were again joined by amateurs in Canada and the Maritime Radio Historical Society (MRHS). The Canadian amateurs were able to make a number of cross-band QSOs with both US [experimental stations] and Canadian amateurs.”

Raab said the most popular operating modes were CW, QRSS, JT9, and WSPR. Conditions were “generally good” the first evening, but deteriorated on the second evening of the activity.

Some, but not all, of the participating experimental stations were part of the ARRL Experiment; others taking part included operators who have obtain their own Part 5 licenses to operate in the MF spectrum. Canada already has authorized the use of 472-479 kHz for Amateur Radio, and several Canadian stations — from Newfoundland to British Columbia — were on the air for the February Activity Night.

Some hightlights:

  • WG2XJM in Pennsylvania, using an MOPA (master oscillator, power amplifier) transmitter with an output of only 7 W (estimated 0.6 W EIRP) contacted WG2XIQ in Texas.
  • ZF1FJ in the Cayman Islands reported receiving WD2XSH/15, WG2XIQ, WG2XKA, WG2XPJ, WH2XGP, and WI2XPQ.
  • WH2XCR in Hawaii was received by JA1NQI-2.
  • WH2XCR and VK3ELV heard each other on WSPR.

According to Raab’s quarterly report, a total 578 contacts have been logged by WD2XSH Experiment participants. There have been no reports of interference on either 630 meters or 2200 meters.

The FCC proposed in April 2015 to permit Amateur Radio access to 2200 and 630 meters. Recently, the ARRL urged the FCC not to adopt “an overbroad” requirement for notification of utilities in advance of intended Amateur Radio operation on the pending 2200 and 630 meter bands. Radio amateurs in several countries already have permission to use the 630 meter band. They are Germany, Greece, Malta, Monaco, Norway, the Philippines, Czech Republic, Ireland, Switzerland, New Zealand, Finland, Spain, France, Poland, Bulgaria, Canada, Vietnam, Japan, Cayman Islands, and La Reunion Island.

The Japan Amateur Radio League (JARL) is offering new awards for contacting or receiving 10 or more stations on 2200 meters (135.7-137.8 kHz) 630 meters, as confirmed by QSL card. There are endorsements for confirming additional stations.

More details about LF and MF operating are available on the website of MF and LF enthusiast John Langridge, KB5NJD/WG2XIQ. 



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