Posts Tagged ‘history’
Land (er, FREQUENCY) Grab (Part 1)
This article is part one in a multi-part series. Part 2 is located here: One Aspect of Amateur Radio: Good Will Ambassadors to the World. Part 3 is located here: In Response — Can’t We All Just Get Along?
We’ve all heard it at least once: no one owns a frequency.
By law, amateurs must keep the transmissions from their station within the bounds of the allocations granted to license-holding operators–within these bands that are allocated for amateur radio use. Amateurs are expected to follow band-plans, which guide us to which mode can be used in a band.
Subbands — Band Plans
There are many decades of constant refining of the standard operating procedures–perhaps we can call them, traditions–that, for the most part, work out pretty well for most amateur radio operations on our precious allocations in the radio spectrum. Each band–a slice of radio spectrum between a lower frequency and a higher frequency–is made up of subbands. These subbands are slices within a specific band (allocation), in which amateurs participate in two-way communications by using a particular mode of transmission, like single side band or CW.
For instance, Morse code enthusiasts use CW (continuous-wave modulation, i.e., A1A) between 14.000 MHz and 14.150, which is the subband that exists in the larger allocations known as the 20-Meter Band. The 20-Meter Band is 14.000 MHz to 14.350 MHz, and the regulating bodies (such as the FCC in the USA) have directed through law that voice modes cannot be used between those subband frequencies from 14.00 MHz to 14.15 MHz. Voice modes can be used from 14.15 MHz up to 14.35 MHz, with certain license class variations. Read the PDF from the FCC: FCC ONLINE TABLE OF FREQUENCY ALLOCATIONS
CW is not the only mode allowed in the 14.00-MHz-to-14.15-MHz subband. The regulations stipulate that a number of data modes can be used in this subband. There are specific requirements that a mode must meet, in order to comply with regulations–these are known as the authorized emission types.
Amateur radio operators, decades ago, began discussing, then agreeing to, agreements between all operators as to where specific modes can be used, so those operating the different modes do not trample on each other’s transmissions. These agreements are known as our band-plan gentlemen’s agreements. They exist to help minimize interference–QRM–and to help foster good operating procedures between the different groups.
The band plans that have evolved through the decades are not regulations, and do not mean that any particular group of amateur radio operators own any frequency or subband. A mode does not own a particular subband. Amateur radio operators are not encouraged to start transmitting a mode that is typically found in that subband, if someone else is on that frequency using a mode not expected.
Just because some other operator is using the subband for a mode not in compliance with the gentlemen’s agreement, don’t purposefully try to eject that operator. At the same time, the gentlemen’s agreements exist to help amateurs avoid interference with others that are using different modes. Thus, the operator who has chosen to use a non-standard mode for a subband known to be used for some other mode should move that operation to the subband identified to be for that operator’s current mode of transmitter emissions. In other words, do not QRM another amateur radio operator, and do not cause confusion and frustration by barging into a subband for a mode that you are not intending to use. Use the mode expected in the subband of your current operations.
This concept is especially helpful when we consider weak-signal operations. If a very strong, loud teletype transmission begins in a subband that is set aside for weak-signal propagation modes like WSPR, then it defeats the efforts of the operators making the attempt to have successful weak-signal two-way communications. Thus, the teletype transmission should be made in a subband where teletype operation is expected and acceptable. And, WSPR should stay in the subband where people expect to find WSPR signals.
This concept is also applied to VHF or higher bands. Why? If repeaters are parked on known repeater subbands, then weak-signal single-sideband communications can take place in a subband where repeaters are not allowed. By allowed, though, I mean, by agreement with gentlemen’s agreements. Regulators have stayed out of the amateur radio operations except by creating regulations at a high-level–for instance, the FCC stipulating that voice communications are not allowed between 14.000 MHz and 14.150 MHz, in the 20-Meter band.
The Frequency Grabs by the WSJT Developers, Planners, and Leadership
With several current release candidates of the WSJT-X software by Joe Taylor, the group of developers and leadership have programmed into the WSJT-X software a set of NEW default frequencies. These new frequencies are in addition to their current pre-programmed frequencies that the amateur community now identifies as, The FT8 Subbands.
The new proposed frequencies are right on top of other subbands where other modes have been operating for decades (such as PSK and Olivia, and many others). There was no community discussion, except within the WSJT community. And, when someone protested the take-over of other well-established subbands, those protests were shot down. The stated reasons included, “Well, those other modes are not very active or popular, because spots are not showing up on various spotting networks.” Such reasons break down on deeper consideration–for instance, most spotting networks are not programmed to automatically identify Olivia transmissions. CW, PSK, and FT8 are programmed into scanners, but other modes are ignored.
This behavior, considered rude, arrogant, presumptuous, and anti-gentlemanly (referring to well-established gentlemen’s agreements) has happened before, with the initial release of FT8. They (the WSJT-X developers and leadership) simply picked a frequency slice of each subband, without true collaboration with the wider amateur radio community.
When this columnist and fellow amateur radio community member, attempted a discussion, the retort from an official representative was an absolute dismissal of any protest against the choice and method of frequency options within the WSJT software. While the software marks these frequency as suggestions, only, these defaults are used without question by the operators of said software. And, the mode is so fast that there’s no human way of truly monitoring the frequency before use, to see if some other mode is in operation. Besides, weak-signals that are present but cannot be heard by one’s ear, might well be in operation. Subbands exist to keep QRM from covering up the weak signals of the mode expected at that frequency.
Enter the IARU…
The IARU has decided to step in and join the discussion. “The International Amateur Radio Union has been the worldwide voice of radio amateurs, securing and safeguarding the amateur radio spectrum since 1925.” The IARU guides regulating bodies like the FCC, regarding the administration and rule-making pertaining to amateur radio.
The IARU states, on their website,
The radio spectrum is a priceless natural resource. Because radio waves do not respect borders, the use of the spectrum must be regulated internationally. This is accomplished through the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a specialized agency of the United Nations. Through World Radiocommunication Conferences (WRCs) held approximately every four years the ITU revises the international Radio Regulations which have the force and effect of a treaty. The Radio Regulations allocate the spectrum to different radiocommunication services such as broadcasting, mobile, radar, and radionavigation (GPS). The most recent WRC was held in October-November 2019. The next one is not yet scheduled but is expected to be held in 2023, so it is usually referred to as WRC-23.
New uses of the spectrum are being developed every day. This puts enormous pressure on incumbent users who are called upon to share their spectrum access with new arrivals. The allocation process is extremely complex, especially when satellite services are involved.
Reportedly, from first-hand communication from one IARU representative,
WSJT-X RC3 has 14074 kHz again for FT8. IARU is intervening. Stay tuned. I am asking for further suggestions.
73 Tom DF5JL
IARU R1 HF Manager
This is very welcomed news!
What ought to take place, as quickly as possible, is to rally the different interested parties, like the Olivia group, the PSK groups, the various CW groups like CWOps, FISTS, and the SKCC, and many others, for ideas and suggestions. A discussion must take place in the hope that new gentlemen’s agreements can be made, that include the FT8 and FT4 operations, without stepping on the subbands of other digital modes.
As Tom says, STAY TUNED.
If you have suggestions, please comment. This columnist will summarize the main ideas of the comments and forward them to Tom. You may also contact the IARU managers and let them know your suggestions.
Discussions in the Olivia community are ongoing, too. Join in at OliviaDigitalMode.net even if you are not yet an Olivia operator.
On Facebook, you may also discuss your thoughts, in either the Olivia Digital Modes on HF group or in the Digital Modes on HF group.
If you use FT8 and FT4, voice your concerns and ideas, too. Open dialog, without declaring war, is welcomed and hopefully will prove productive.
This article is the first in a series focusing on band plans, and gentlemen’s agreements. Please stay tuned for more installments.
Tomas Hood, NW7US, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Nebraska, USA. Tomas is the Space Weather and Radio Propagation Contributing Editor to ‘CQ Amateur Radio Magazine’, and ‘The Spectrum Monitor’ magazine.
Chat From a Quarantined Software Engineer – Welfare Check!
This is a welfare check on you. Please leave a comment on how you are faring, what is happening in your situation with the lock-down.
Are you quarantined? Working from home? Did you lose your job? How are you doing during this crazy time?
What is going on with you during this challenging situation?
I talk about what I’m doing, too. I’m quarantined at home. I can work from home, as I am a senior software engineer. I can do my job by remote access to a virtual workstation, through a secure VPN connection. I’m blessed that I still can work during this lock-down.
But, I have a medical emergency – a dental problem – and trying to be seen by a dentist is difficult, because all of the local dentists were told to shut down their daily business and quarantine. Only emergency appointments are being made! I was finally, after two days of phone calls, able to schedule an emergency visit to my dentist!
I want to know: How do you use amateur radio, now that we are all stuck at home? Are you using ham radio more, now? Less?
Please leave a comment to let me know how you are doing, and answer the other questions, too. I hope to hear from you.
I hope to meet you on the shortwave amateur radio bands. I am usually using Olivia, or Morse code CW. More information about Olivia: http://OliviaDigitalMode.net.
Be healthy, be safe, stay sane!
“BEST REGARDSES” AND “BEST REGARDS’S”
“Best regardses” and “Best regards’s”
That’s silly, of course. We who speak and write in the English language know that you should not pluralize a word that is already in its plural form. “Best regards” means, “I wish you the best of regards.” It is implied that there is more than one regard. Perhaps there are a few, perhaps many more. It then is clear that we wouldn’t normally pluralize “regards,” into, “regardses.”
It is also silly to say that the best of regards owns something. How can a regard let alone a group of regards own anything? So, why “73’s” when written?
The usage of “73” comes from early landline telegraph (typically railroad telegraphy landlines). Originally devised in the era of telegraphs, 73 and other numbers were used to speed up the transmission of common messages over landlines by mapping common messages to these specific numbers. And, numbers were quicker to send than the longer messages the numbers replaced.
QST, April 1935, on page 60, contains a short article on the origin of the amateur radio vernacular, 73. This article was a summation of another article that appeared in the “December Bulletin from the Navy Department Office of the Chief of Naval Operations,” published December of 1934.
Here’s a quotation from that Navy article:
“It appears from a research of telegraph histories that in 1859 the [land-line] telegraph people held a convention, and one of its features was a discussion as to the saving of ‘line time.’
A committee was appointed to devise a code to reduce standard expressions to symbols or figures. This committee worked out a figure code, from figure 1 to 92.
Most of these figure symbols became obsolescent, but a few remain to this date, such as 4, which means “Where shall I go ahead?’. Figure 9 means ‘wire,’ the wire chief being on the wire and that everyone should close their keys. Symbol 13 means ‘I don’t understand’; 22 is ‘love and a kiss’; 30 means ‘good night’ or ‘the end.’
The symbol most often used now is 73, which means ‘my compliments’ and 92 is for the word ‘deliver.’ The other figures in between the forgoing have fallen into almost complete disuse.”
We can see, then, that “73” mapped to “best regards” or “my compliments” and was intended as a general valediction for transmitted messages. That’s why it is silly to say, “73s,” as that maps to, “best regardses” – 73s adds the plural to a plural. (And, don’t make it possessive, as in using, “73’s” – a regard cannot own something).
For reference and some more interesting background on this, see http://www.signalharbor.com/73.html
An example of on-the-air conversation (or, QSO—“QSO” is the shorthand Q-code for, “two-way exchange of communications”) illustrates proper usage of 73. When saying your goodbye, you would tap out the Morse code as follows:
TNX FER FB QSO. C U AGN. 73 ES HPY NEW YR.
That is interpreted as, “Thanks for the fine-business chat. I hope to see you again for another chat. Best regards and happy new year.”
This, if you choose to throw around shorthand Morse code number codes when you are speaking, you wouldn’t say, “73s.” You would say, “73.”
My friend, David Edenfield, opined, “This idea is beyond turning into glue from the dead horse it’s beating again. This is so petty to be concerned with this. Even the Old Man Hiram Percy Maxim 1AW used 73s on his QSL cards.”
Well, even Hiram Percy Maxim has been incorrect and incorrectly used grammar. (chuckle)
There is something to be said about teaching new amateur radio operators the best of our traditions, history, skills, procedures, protocols, ethics, and culture. There’s no rational argument that can make a case that allowing these aspects of our service and hobby to degrade over time (by the lack of Elmering) is a good way to see our service and hobby thrive and progress.
I don’t see any slippage from high standards as being a good strategy for nurturing growth, progress, and effectiveness of our service and hobby. Keeping some level of excellence in every aspect of our hobby can only be beneficial.
In this case, how many new hams that learn to repeat ham lingo know anything of the history behind the common “73?” My dead horse turned glue is educational and it is my belief that educating about origins elevates the current.
73 – NW7US
Hey! I almost forgot !!!
As per the ARRL Announcement
Museum Ships Weekend will take place over the June 1 – 2 weekend, sponsored by the Battleship New Jersey Amateur Radio Station NJ2BB. Radio operation will be from a variety of vintage and noteworthy vessels. This is not a competition.
So far 75 ships are on the roster to take part. All stations working at least 15 different participating ships will receive a certificate, if they send a copy of their log showing these contacts.
While operation on any amateur frequency is allowed, most ships will be operate in the General portion of the bands. PSK31 operation will be on 14.070 MHz, 10.142 MHz, 18.100 MHz, 21.070 MHz, and 28.120 MHz.
Some ships also may be found on 75 meters (3.880 – 3.885 MHz) and on 40 meters (7.290 MHz) using AM, some using the vessel’s original restored equipment.
This is what I love about Summer - there's always something going on, just about every weekend. If you follow the link above, you'll get a list of who will be on the air. Log 15 ships and $4 will get you a piece of wallpaper for your shack.
72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!
Radio Virgin: the First QSO
My first QSO (and, yeah, it was with Morse code) was petrifying and…
What’s your story of your first QSO?
73 de NW7US
Let’s Call CQ – QSO Today Episode 184 with NW7US
I got a Skype call a few weeks ago from Eric, 4Z1UG–the creator and host of the QSO Today Podcast–during which he asked me about how and why I got into amateur radio. Here’s the result.
We talk a lot about the band conditions due to the Sunspot cycle. Most of it on Facebook and other places is about how “dead” the bands are at this point. We all can’t wait until the cycle starts to rise and we will be making contacts with little effort. I remember in my conversation with Chuck Adams, K7QO in Episode 58, that he really enjoys operating is “Pigrig”, one watt, CW transceiver on 20 meters. When I asked him, (I liberally paraphrase) “but Chuck, the bands are dead. How does that work for you?”. His reply was that while most hams are listening to the bands, he calls CQ until he gets a reply. Works every time.
My QSO this week is with Tomas Hood, NW7US, who has years of expertise in propagation and Solar activity. He is the propagation editor of more than a few radio magazines and websites. In our post-recording conversation we discussed this phenomenon of listening and not calling CQ. I even had this idea that maybe one of the reasons that the digital modes are so successful is because they “beacon”, as part of the whole digital experience, the same as calling CQ. This is why they make contacts. From what I see, looking at PSK Reporter, hams are making lots of contacts worldwide using the digital modes. While SSB may not be working so well, CW and the digital modes seem to work fine.
I like to work on my bench or make the podcast while listening to the bands. Jeff Damm, WA7MLH, in Episode 177, says that he will put his keyer in CQ mode while he is working on a new radio. Invariably, sometimes after many minutes, he gets a reply. Great idea Jeff!
Episode 184 can be found here: https://www.qsotoday.com/podcasts/nw7us
Highlights of Episode 184:
Tomas Hood, NW7US is the propagation editor of a number of shortwave and amateur radio magazines, and has a wide variety of websites, that grew out of his love for all things radio, and for listening on the bands to far off DX and commercial broadcast stations. Tomas shares his understanding of propagation and the lessons we can learn from listening, really listening to the QSOs and exchanges during contest operation.
All of the QSO Today episodes are great. I enjoy hearing about many different hams. Do check out all of the episodes that Eric has published.
73 de NW7US dit dit
Some more oldies, but goodies
For those of you with a kindle, these can be download for FREE from Amazon.
1. The Radio Boys’ First Wireless
2. The Radio Boys at Ocean Point
3. The Radio Boys at the Sending Station
4. The Radio Boys at Mountain Pass
5. The Radio Boys Trailing a Voice
6. The Radio Boys on the Mexican Border
7. The Radio Boys on Secret Service Duty
8. The Radio Boys in the Thousand Islands
9. The Radio Boys’ Search for the Inca’s Treasure
10. The Radio Boys Rescue the Lost Alaska Expedition
11. Radio Boys Cronies
12. Radio Boys Loyalty: Bill Brown Listens In
13. The Radio Boys with the Revenue Guards
So yeah, the stories are a bit campy, perhaps and the language and slang is old - but what the heck? They're free and they're almost 100 years old!
I downloaded them all to my kindle and am enjoying them. I hope you will, too!
72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!