LF / MF – Time To File

The FCC is now officially inviting comment on its proposal to establish two new amateur bands ... the 2200m LF band (135.7kHz - 137.8kHz) and the 630m MF band (472 - 479kHz).

The detailed proposal was published in the Federal Registry on July 2, thus establishing the comment deadline as August 31st and a deadline of September 30th for 'comments on the comments'.

It is proposed that the Amateur Radio service would be 'secondary users' of this slice of the spectrum. Secondary users must not cause interference to the Primary users and also be willing to accept interference from the Primary users as conditions of operating. In reality, the only primary use of these bands in North America is for hydro distribution control (PLC) signals. Over several years of maximum ERP amateur experimental work, both here in Canada as well as in the U.S.A., there has been no documented interference to these signals nor have the well-shielded PLC signals been a problem for amateurs ... it seems that co-existence is readily attainable.

Whether you have operated on these bands or not (but especially if you have), I would urge you to file a comment expressing your opinions on any of the critical concerns (antenna height, power etc.) expressed by the FCC. All of these were listed in a previous three-part blog, starting here.

If you think that you might like to operate or experiment on either of these bands in the future, then just tell them that as well ... the more interest from the amateur radio world shown, the better.

For those of you that might think that this part of the spectrum has little to offer the amateur, I can assure you that such is not the case. Coast-to-coast propagation has been demonstrated on numerous occasions (on both bands). Both bands offer wide opportunities for experimental work dealing with antennas, modes and propagation as well as providing an abundance of homebrewing opportunities for builders.

Comments may be filed, identified by ET Docket No 15-99 (proceeding number), via the FCC Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS). As well, you can read all of the comments that have been filed here.

U.S. amateurs have been waiting long enough (since 2007) for an opportunity to use these bands ... let's show the FCC that we really want them by filing your comments before August 31st!

Steve McDonald, VE7SL, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from British Columbia, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

VHF NFD 2015

The 2015 annual VHF national field day is now officially finished. So what’s the news?

G4VFL/P on Corney FellFirstly I managed so excellent DX from the comfort of my own shack.

DX you say?

Yep 3 countries

Wow(?)…well yes they were EI,GM and GW so not exactly a long way but DX none the less.


Well yes, if the bands are normally silent and there’s not a station to be heard then the end of the village is DX.

But if there’s a bit of activity as there was this weekend then its always nice to work a few stations in other countries. But what would be really nice is to hear this level of activity on the bands regularly, and there to be rag chewing alongside contesting.

The ‘official entry’ from Workington was camped up on Corney Fell. I arrived too late to help get set up due to domestic duties but the photo’s didn’t do the conditions justice. There was a good 30+ mph wind up there and that 2m antenna was flapping about a lot. Hence the extra guy .


The VHF bands are XYL friendly in my house as the antenna’s are smaller, can be overlooked (on occasion) and2m 70cm Antenna don’t warrant the usual response of ‘What the hell is that doing there?’ and ‘ How long do you intend on keeping that thing there?’ The answer to both of these questions is to mumble a bit and pretend to be busy doing something important.

So here’s a plea. Don’t make me take down this antenna, or worse still turn it vertically for FM. I’d quite like to work stations regularly on VHF SSB or even CW. Remember to switch the rig on, look for IO84 square and break the silence. A response to one contester today on 70cms was ‘That woke me up, I’ve been calling for 2 hours solidly and you’re the first one today’ isn’t good.

Alex Hill, G7KSE, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Cumbria, UK. Contact him at [email protected].

Field Day 2015

ARRL Field Day in an annual operating event designed to demonstrate and practice portable station operation. The Field Day exercise is important in that it shows how radio amateurs can be mobilized in the case of an emergency of any sort. Those involved in the planning of a Field Day understand the detailed planning required to construct, operate and tear-down a quality operating station. There is also the social side of Field Day that is the annual highlight for many clubs, that is a side benefit of the operating activity.

I haven't participated in Field Day for a couple of decades. This year I was invited to participate in the Field Day operation of W5YA. W5YA has won their entered category numerous times and has finished in the top 10 of all Field Day stations multiple times, operating QRP. Their success is directly correlated to meticulous planning and the excellent execution of that plan by the team of KT5X, K1JD, K5KM, NM5S, K7SO, K6XT, W0CCA and WD9FJL. The primary antennas are wire antennas strung in the trees at the Field Day site near Chama, NM.

My role this year was to fill in some shifts at the CW stations but primarily to supervise the operation of the GOTA (Get On The Air) station along with my son, Michael Jr., AB5EB. The GOTA station used my call, AD5A, as the GOTA station must operate under a different callsign than the primary Field Day station. The GOTA operators were my grandsons Reid, KF5GYE, age 14 and Boogie, KF5GYD, age 13. Both have their General tickets, but are not very active, which is a requirement of the GOTA station. My son and I would coach them during the event. Neither of my grandsons do CW, so we would be operating SSB, QRP. Not the easiest of assignments. Operating on a crowded band with beginner level operators is quite a learning experience for all involved. What was slightly frustrating in the first 12 hours was a delight in the last 12. Both boys learned a lot about operating QRP, proper procedures and amateur radio etiquette. In the final hours of the event, no coaching was needed. They  learned to handle both calling CQ and answering stations in a pile-up. Overall a fantastic result, the boys finished with 158 SSB QSO's from the GOTA station using 5 watts from a KX3 and a wire in the trees.

The final tally hasn't been made yet, but the CW station contributed over 1,400 QSO.s with wire antenna's and 5 watts of power. A very cool accomplishment and a testament to what is possible with amateur radio. Teaching us those lessons and getting new hams involved is what Field Day is all about.

We camped in a tent for two nights so I got to enjoy my son and grandsons in a great outdoor radio experience. Below is a video of the two GOTA operators. KF5GYD is operating and KF5GYE is cooking. The video should give you a flavor of Field Day.

Mike Crownover, AD5A, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Texas, USA. Contact him at [email protected].


The layout of MacLogger DX on my Mac
I recently tweeted that I had dropped Ham Radio Deluxe in favour for MacLoggerDX. Amongst the re-tweets and comments i received, Danny (PA3DM) did mention that HRD is not just a logbook, but a full suite of digital modes, rotor and a rig control system. This I completely agree with, and my time using HRD was always a great experience and I would recommend the software to anyone.

My issue with HRD is this. I use a Mac. I transitioned from PC to Mac around 3 years ago, and have been using a Virtual PC to do my PC based tasks (including my day job) and this is the issue. HRD over a Virtual Machine, using RS-232 connectors is unpredictable, slow and frankly unusable. Its not the fault of HRD, nor is it the fault of the Virtual Machine, The RS-232 - USB connectors. It’s a combination of all the elements tethered together that makes the experience unusable.

So the solution ? well its not a solution to be fair. It’s a compromise. Its not HRD, its not an all in one solution, its a log book that can use the radios VFO,  the rotor and DX cluster all together. That is basically what I used HRD for. And on the odd occasion I did venture into digital modes. 
I will complete a review of MacLoggerDX in future posts, but for now I thought I would explain my rationale of making the switch.  So far, so good.

Dan Trudgian, MØTGN, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Wiltshire, England. He's a radio nut, IT guru, general good guy and an all round good egg. Contact him him here.

PIXIE 2 QRP Transceiver build

Its been a busy year so far. In fact my radio activities have really suffered. But here is a quick update on a recent project I have undertaken.

I decided to build one of the PIXIE 2 kits that are available from eBay for £3.19 including shipping. At that cost – how could you turn up the opportunity?

The kit arrived in just a couple of days, and I was delighted when I finally had some free time to build the kit.  I videoed the kit build, and it only took around 3 hours including the filming. If the camera hadn’t been out, and I was so inclined – im pretty sure this kit could be built within 60 mins.

Anyway here is the video. I hope you enjoy it, if you found it useful or inspirational – leave a comment and go buy a kit !

I will be taking this new kit out and trying to get a QSO. i hear it might be an uphill struggle. But i really must give it a go.

Dan Trudgian, MØTGN, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Wiltshire, England. He's a radio nut, IT guru, general good guy and an all round good egg. Contact him him here.

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