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Search is On for GPS Buoys Intruding on 10 Meters


Radio amateurs in Portugal have intensified the search for GPS buoys that are illegally operating and intruding on 10 meters. A recent International Amateur Radio Union Region 1 Monitoring System (IARUMS-R1) report indicated that one such buoy was operating 24/7 on 28.100 MHz, using F1B mode (RTTY), 51 baud, 270 Hz shift. IARUMS-R1 also has posted a lengthy and growing list of intruding driftnet fisheries buoys, transmitting CW in various parts of 10 meters. A group of Portuguese radio amateurs has volunteered to identify the location of GPS buoy clusters that have been transmitting “for years” on 10 meters, an exclusive Amateur Radio allocation.

“So far, we have had some success in determining the location of the few that we can receive when propagation allows,” said Paulo Teixeira, CT2IWW, the team spokesperson. “The data suggest that these clusters are located in the Atlantic, alongside the coasts of Africa and Europe, but it’s possible that they are present elsewhere.”

The F1B transmissions consist of 3 second RTTY bursts. Individual transmissions are 10 seconds apart, and the cycle repeats every 5 minutes. Frequencies are between 28.000 and 28.120 MHz, at 5 kHz intervals.

“So far we detected them on 28,010, 28,025, 28,035, 28,050, 28,065, 28,075, and 28,101 kHz,” Teixeira said, “but we believe that other frequency ranges are possible.”

The group has asked radio amateurs living along the Atlantic coast, to look for these transmissions and record them. Teixeira said poor propagation is making it difficult to obtain additional samples.

“More recordings are needed in order to get greater consistency of the decoded data and, possibly, work on a automated or semi-automated decoding solution,” he said. He stressed the importance of indicating date, time (UTC), frequency, and mode. Recordings should be at least 10 to 20 minutes long. E-mail results to CT2IWW via his address.

Meanwhile, Jose Francisco de Almeida, CT4AN, reported that agents from Portugal’s telecoms regulator ANACOM and maritime police inspected 30 fishing, maritime tourism, and passenger vessels in Madeira, Douro, and Cascais, for illegal radio gear. According to IARUMS-R1, the two agencies have undertaken several enforcement actions in commercial fishing ports and marinas. Violations detected included the use of inadequate equipment or radio equipment operating outside the maritime mobile service bands. Twelve ANACOM and 14 maritime police took part in the operations, which were reported to have resulted in a decrease in offenses.

Illegal buoys of all types — fisheries, driftnet, GPS, and Datawell “Waverider” wave measurement buoys — remain very active on 10 meters, according to Wolf Hadel, DK2OM, the IARUMS-R1 coordinator. The July IARUMS newsletter included more than three dozen reports.



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