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Surfin': Still Exploring 900 MHz

04/24/2008

Exploring 900 MHz was the topic here last week. In response, Ron Morocco, K5LLL, wrote, "The 900-MHz band is a good band even with all the Part 15 devices. I have been a weak signal operator on CW/SSB for many years with nine states and more than 30 grids worked with best DX of 1000 miles. Most of the central US group uses 902.1 as the calling frequency, while the rest use 903.1 for some reason. We find the low end quieter and more suited for weak signals than 903."

Dave Malicki, N1OFJ, had this to say: "Here in southern Connecticut, we operate a 900 MHz repeater located in North Guilford. This band has excellent coverage and is outstanding, especially around urban areas with our repeater offering surprising coverage in and around the rolling hills in the area.

"We even had a few DX contacts, the farthest from Cape May, New Jersey (around 210 miles) with 10 W during a band opening. We modified a Motorola Nucleus II paging transmitter for the station emitter and it runs 250 W output day and night. We also modified a Motorola MaxTrac 800 MHz rig to serve as the 900 MHz receiver. It has been a blast constructing and modifying this equipment to the amateur bands."

By the way, Dave co-wrote a how-to article with Bob Meister, WA1MIK, describing how to extend the frequency range of the MaxTrac 900 MHz VCO. You can view it on the Repeater Builder Web site.

All this so reminds me of the early days of FM repeater operation when we were modifying commercial equipment ("boat anchors") to build and use repeaters on 450 MHz. And I find there is even more of the in the heart of the Red Sox Nation.

Rick Zach, K1RJZ, who is very active with the GEMOTO group, described how 900 MHz activity is really hopping in the Boston area with repeaters in Hopkinton and Waltham built and accessed using converted commercial equipment.

Rich is very enthused and writes, "This GEMOTO group is growing like crazy! There was a time when 'real ham radio' meant taking the covers off and tinkering. No more. No more until now. The huge influx of surplus FM analog 'wideband' radios is causing a huge spike in participation to return to what we used to do because it was the only way to stay on the air. It's here again and not a splinter movement. This is now main stream and cheap, too."

Rich suggested checking out an "excellent history lesson" about the early days of FM repeater operation, just like I was talking about above.

Until next time, keep on surfin'!

Editor's note: Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU, prefers using a 900 MHz hammed radio over a cordless phone any day. To communicate with Stan, send him e-mail or add comments to his blog. By the way, every installment of Surfin' is indexed here, so go look it up.

 

Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU
Contributing Editor



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