Callsign change

I’ve decided to get back my original Region 10 callsign: KB0YTU. I thought that with each license upgrade I’d get a new systematically assigned call - signifying my achievement up the ranks. On second, I’ve reconsidered.

If you’ve noticed, I’ve made kb0ytu.com my primary domain, keeping ad0ui.com to maintain any links - if they haven’t been broken.

I’ll stick with this at least for now. Maybe I can even start blogging again.

2019 Minneapolis downtown Skywarn frequencies

146.700 Metro PL/CTCSS 127.3/127.3
145.430 Hennepin County RACES PL/CTCSS 127.3/127.3
147.000 West Metro PL/CTCSS 000.0/114.8
147.210 South Metro PL/CTCSS 100.0/100.0
146.760 Metro alternate PL/CTCSS 114.8/114.8

If you have a mobile or an HT at a higher elevation, you’ll be able to hit the West and South Metro repeaters. It’s also a good idea to include 146.520.

NOAA Weather Radio (enter into your WX channel and enable WX alert function):

162.550 NOAA Weather Metro
162.500 NOAA Weather NW Metro
162.475 NOAA Weather SW Metro

Morse Code

So now I want to really dive in to code work. I have two keys - a British "KEY WT 8 AMP NO 2 MK II" and a Speed-X 310-003 (Gold plated nickel with a shorting switch). I am more comfortable with the British key. Perhaps it is the Navy type knob. Or it's an official military key. Whatever it is, it's the best of the two keys, IMHO.

I suppose I should be fair to Nye-Viking and replace the current flat knob with a Navy knob, then we'll see. I was thinking of getting another Nye-Viking with the Navy knob and without a shorting switch, two bases, and a cord. Or two. Or three.

From what I've read, my speed will suffer and fatigue level will increase with a straight key. I would have to go to a semiautomatic bug or at least a single lever paddle. I don't have the proficiency for a Vibroplex Original Standard (20+ wpm) so I should look at the Vibroplex Vibrokeyer Standard.

I could, of course, adapt the Vibroplex OS for a slower speed - 10 wpm - as one Ham did

This is a preliminary post. I'll spiff it up later.

 

 

Apartment antennas

If you live in a well constructed apartment building, you'd better be prepared to do battle with concrete, plaster, lathe, metal screen, vertically polarized noise and other electrical interference. In other words, get used to operating by digital modes.

I've tried (not in order) a 30 foot dipole with using the Alpha Delta antenna kit, a Hustler dipole using two MO-3s and resonators, a vertical using an MO-3 and resonator. None of those worked. The only antenna that will allow HF operation to any degree is the Chameleon F-Loop. The Chameleon P-Loop should also work, though I haven't ordered one yet, and the demand is so high the wait is two weeks.

To be fair, I didn't have a good earth ground. That's why I purchased the MFJ-931 artificial ground. I'll experiment with a random wire, both the Alpha Delta and Hustler dipoles, and the Hustler vertical with a resonator and let you know of the results.

As an aside, the 30 foot standard dipole makes a great antenna for the AM broadcast band. :-)

Emergency Communications

There are any number of ways to participate in public service: Skywarn, MARS, ARES, RACES, Red Cross, Marathon, SATERN, Hurricane Watch Net. Let's take a look at what they are and what is involved.

SKYWARN: Very important in the Mid-West (tornadoes) and the South (Hurricanes), not so much in the rest of the country. You go to a class and learn how to identify dangerous weather conditions, and how to report it to the National Weather Service on 2 meter FM. You take a test, pass it, and receive a Skywarn ID and your number. Then you wait until the Skywarn Net is activated. This is weather SPOTTING, not CHASING.

MARS: Military Auxiliary Radio System. There are two branches extant, that being Army and Air Force MARS. Among the most important functions of MARS is to provide Department of Defense-sponsored contingency communications on a local, national, and international basis as an adjunct to existing [Army] communications; auxiliary communications for the Department of Defense, Federal, National Guard, civil authorities, and local agencies as directed or requested; assist in effecting normal communications under emergency conditions as directed or requested; improve high frequency (HF) and very high frequency (VHF) radio operating techniques and technology through training, experimentation, and testing; and have volunteer personnel trained in military radio communications, techniques, and procedures.

ARES: Amateur Radio Emergency Service. Amateur radio licensees who have registered their qualifications and equipment for communications duty in public service in disaster situations. This is a private, voluntary registry. Then again, the mere possession of an Amateur radio license automatically enrolls you in that cadre of radio operators who can operate ad-hoc.  ARES, IMHO, is an entity that only duplicates what exists in fact save for the equipment list to the ARRL.

RACES: Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service. When the President of the United States (or his successor) issues Emergency War Orders, RACES stations and operators are the only civilian Amateur operators (outside of MARS stations) that will be able to transmit. If that ever happens and the bombs start to fall, I don't think there will be anyone left to enforce 47 CFR 97.407 anyway.

RED CROSS: They've gotten rid of their communication trucks and apparently centralized their HF licenses. The Minneapolis Red Cross has K0ARC though it is dormant. I was considering volunteering for the Red Cross - too much bureaucracy. I canned the idea.

MARATHONS: Volunteers with HTs. Anyone can be trained to do that, and I'm skeptical about volunteering to transmit medical information by voice or data. Vicarious liability and all that. And I'm not about to buy $2000 worth of D-STAR or C4FM. No thanks.

SATERN: Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network. I can best describe this as a Christian Red Cross, only with a better reputation than the original. SATERN is "dedicated to assisting the Salvation Army during times of Emergency...[to] provide all possible forms of communication when normal communications are impossible...". Believers in the Rabbi and carpenter from Samaria, have at it.

HURRICANE WATCH NET: Skywarn for the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. Like Tornadoes, except...bigger in diameter. And very destructive. Not very applicable to Minnesota.

 

RF noise between a transceiver and computer

As noted in the instructions for setting up the TS-590SG to use digital modes on a Mac Mini, there is an increase in RF noise when the USB cable is connected between the Kenwood and the Mac Mini, through the SignaLink USB, and with a DB-9 serial cable to a USB to Serial adapter. I also tried connecting the serial cable to a Lenovo desktop - and even though the desktop was off, there was still an increase in noise. This leads me to think it is the cable itself that is coupling the noise to the Kenwood. Here are three possibilities of mitigating the interference:

  1. Use a shielded cable, ensuring the shield has continuity between connectors; and
  2. Ensure both the transceiver and the computer have a common ground.
  3. Use a laptop that isn't connected to the power lines.

The first alternative ensures the transmission of the interference from the computer to the transceiver. The second didn't work. The third....worked.

I was able to test the third alternative with a recent MacBook Pro. There was minimal additional interference (if at all) and I was able to install the USB drivers, download fldigi and WSJT-X, and get on the air. When the charger is connected, it will show a frequency dependent increase of an RF noise level of S2.

Conclusion: Use a laptop for digital modes to minimize or almost eliminate RF interference.

 

 

 

Kenwood TS-590SG and Fldigi on a Mac

Configured on a Mac mini (Mid 2011) running El Capitan, 10.11.5.

Note: The output audio will default to the headphone jack at random. Read about the problem with USB audio codecs and Mac audio here.

On the Mac:

1. Download the Silicon Labs USB to UART bridge drivers here and install.
2. Connect a USB cable to any USB port on the Mac. DO NOT connect to the TS-590SG.

On the TS-590SG:

3. Make sure a dummy load is present on the antenna connector, power on the TS-590SG and set the power output to 5 watts.
4. Press the Menu key.
5. Use the “MULTI/CH” selector and go to number 68, “USB PORT BAUDRATE”.
6. Use the UP/DOWN buttons and select 57600.
7. Use the “MULTI/CH” selector and go to number 69, “AUDIO INPUT LINE SELECTION FOR DATA COMMUNICATIONS”.
8. Use the UP/DOWN buttons and select “USB”.
9. Use the “MULTI/CH” selector and go to number 70, “SOURCE OF SEND/PTT TRANSMISSION”.
10. Use the UP/DOWN buttons and select “REAR”.
11. Use the “MULTI/CH” selector and go to number 76, “VOX OPERATION WITH DATA INPUT”.
12. Use the UP/DOWN buttons and select “ON”.
13. Press the MENU key to save and exit.
14. Turn off the TS-590SG.
15. Connect the USB cable to the rear USB connector on the TS-590SG.
16. Turn on the TS-590SG.

Go back to the Mac:

17. Open System Preferences.
18. Click on Sound.
19. Click on the Input tab. You should see “USB Audio CODEC”. Select the device. You should see the bars move with sound input.
20. Click on the Sound Effects tab. Using the "Play sound effects through" drop down menu, DO NOT choose "USB Audio CODEC". Click on the Output tab. You should see “USB Audio CODEC”. Select the device.
21. Close System Preferences.

Install Fldigi:

22. Download and install Fldigi.
23. Open Fldigi. You will see the Fldigi configuration wizard. Click “Next”.
24. Enter your station information. Click ”Next”.
25. On the Device tab, check the PortAudio box. Select “USB Audio CODEC for both Capture and Playback. Click “Next”.
26. Click on the Hamlib tab.
27. From the “Rig” drop down menu, select “Kenwood TS-590S (Beta)”.
28. From the “Device” drop down menu, select “/dev/cu.SLAB_USBtoUART”.
29. From the “Baud rate” drop down menu, select “57600”.
30. Make sure Stopbits is 1 and Sideband is “Rig mode”.
31. Make sure the “Use Hamlib” box is checked.
32. The letters on the “Initialize” button at the lower right will be red. Click on it. The red  letters will turn to black and the frequency display behind the Wizard will reflect the rig’s current dial frequency. Click on “Next”.
33. Update the frequencies using your choice of data source. Click “Finish”.
34. Click on the Configure menu in the main window and Save Config.
35. Read the instructions for Fldigi and connect to your antenna.

That’s it! :-)

Note: A Mac Mini will generate S3 RF noise regardless if you are connected to the USB port through a SignaLink, or through the DB-9 connector, depending on the band.

Kenwood TS-590SG and WSJT-X on a Mac

Configured on a Mac mini (Mid 2011) running El Capitan, 10.11.5.

Note: The output audio will default to the headphone jack at random. There is a USB audio codec - Mac audio bug (at least on OS 10.11.5).

On the Mac:

1. Download the Silicon Labs USB to UART bridge drivers here and install.
2. Connect a USB cable to any USB port on the Mac. DO NOT connect to the TS-590SG.

On the TS-590SG:

3. Make sure a dummy load is present on the antenna connector, power on the TS-590SG and set the power output to 5 watts.
4. Press the Menu key.
5. Use the “MULTI/CH” selector and go to number 68, “USB PORT BAUDRATE”.
6. Use the UP/DOWN buttons and select 57600.
7. Use the “MULTI/CH” selector and go to number 69, “AUDIO INPUT LINE SELECTION FOR DATA COMMUNICATIONS”.
8. Use the UP/DOWN buttons and select “USB”.
9. Use the “MULTI/CH” selector and go to number 70, “SOURCE OF SEND/PTT TRANSMISSION”.
10. Use the UP/DOWN buttons and select “REAR”.
11. Use the “MULTI/CH” selector and go to number 76, “VOX OPERATION WITH DATA INPUT”.
12. Use the UP/DOWN buttons and select “ON”.
13. Press the MENU key to save and exit.
14. Turn off the TS-590SG.
15. Connect the USB cable to the rear USB connector on the TS-590SG.
16. Turn on the TS-590SG.

Go back to the Mac:

17. Open System Preferences.
18. Click on Sound.
19. Click on the Input tab. You should see “USB Audio CODEC”. Select the device. You should see the bars move with sound input.
20. Click on the Sound Effects tab. Using the "Play sound effects through" drop down menu, DO NOT choose "USB Audio CODEC". Click on the Output tab. You should see “USB Audio CODEC”. Select the device.
21. Close System Preferences.

Install WSJT-X:

22. Download and install WSJT-X. IMPORTANT: READ ReadMe.txt contained in the image before install.
23. Once you've successfully installed WSJT-X following the instructions in ReadMe.txt, open the application.
24. If the dialog asking you to configure the radio does not appear, go to the finder.
25. Click on WJST-X and choose “Preferences”.
26. Go to the “Radio” tab.
27. From the “Rig” drop down menu, choose “Kenwood TS-590SG”.
28. Under Serial Port Parameters, select the Serial Port “/dev/cu.SLAB_USBtoUART”, Baud Rate 57600, 8 Data Bits, 1 Stop Bit, Hardware Handshake, Force Control Lines DTR HIGH.
29. PTT Method, select “CAT”. (Note: you can also use "VOX" if necessary)
30. Transmit Audio Source, select “Rear/Data”.
31. Mode, select “None”.
32. Split Operation, select “None”.
33. Click on “Test CAT”. If the settings are correct, the button will turn GREEN and “Test PTT” will no longer be grayed out.
34. Click on “Test PTT” The button will turn RED and the TS-590SG will transmit. Click on “Test PTT” to stop transmitting.
35. Click “OK” at the bottom right.

Main window:

36. The frequency indicator should now show your rig’s frequency and there will be a red dot next to the frequency display.
37. Select a band from the wavelength drop down menu to the left of the frequency display and the red dot.
38. With your selection, the TS-590SG will go to the correct frequency for that band, and the dot will turn GREEN.
39. Adjust the volume control below the GREEN dot so the input level is about 40-50 db.
40. Read the instructions for WSJT-X and connect to your antenna.

Note: When the waterfall no longer advances and no further transmissions are noted in the main window indicates WSJT-X has crashed. Quit and restart the program.

Note: A Mac Mini will generate S3 RF noise regardless if you are connected to the USB port through a SignaLink, or through the DB-9 connector, depending on the band.

WSPR to New Zealand

Date: 4/4/16
Times: 0310 0318 0330 UTC

Frequency: 14.097048 Mhz
Power output: 5 watts
Antenna: Chameleon F-Loop
Location: Inside apartment at window
Azimuth: 255 degrees
Elevation: 858 feet ASL
Mode: Upper Side Band
Modulation: 4-FSK
Data rate: 1.4648 baud
Data correction: Forward Error Correction

Transmission heard by:
Callsign: ZL1BOE
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Distance: 8189 miles 13179 kilometers

HF from an apartment

After putting most of my radios on consignment - and eventually selling them - I was able to purchase a Kenwood TS-590SG to be used as my "base" HF unit. I also purchased a Kenwood TS-480SAT, Comet SAA-500 Mark II antenna analyzer, Hustler MO-3 (54") and MO-4 (22") mobile whips, 400 watt resonators for 80-10 meters, a VP-1 tri-band adapter, and a D-322 mount.

My first attempt at a usable antenna in my apartment was the Hustler antenna on the D-322 mount on a modified Sony VCT-R640 tripod (modified = I removed the camera mount) with a counterpoise. Failure.

Second attempt was to ground the antenna base. I was able to match the antenna. Noise. When I used the MO-3 without a resonator for 6 meters at 5 watts, the mic went hot. RF burn. Fail.

Third attempt was to ground the TS-590SG.  Because the ground is attached to building steel, I was in a Faraday cage, effectively nulling my signal. Fail.

Fourth attempt was to purchase a Chameleon F-Loop antenna with the 80 meter add on. Success, save for the standard RFI in an urban area (bzzzt....bzzzt...bzzzt). I'll review the F-Loop later with instructions to make it work with the Kenwoods (or any modern HF transceiver with an internal tuner).

The TS-480SAT will be used for my mobile and field work. I'm looking forward to experimenting with the verticals and the F-Loop outside. I've also ordered HF verticals from GAM (WeatherFax/DSC) and Metz (General Coverage). 

Of course I'll post the results.

 

WIRES-X instructions

Operating a node is easy:

1. Tune the radio to 144.970 Mhz.
2. Look up an active Node ID or a Room ID
3. Transmit DTMF #nnnnn where # is the pound sign and nnnnn is the 5 digit node or room ID (unsuccessful connections will be noted by 4 beeps).
4. If the connection is successful, you will hear my call sign in morse.
5. To disconnect from a remote node, transmit DTMF * (successful disconnect will be acknowledged by 4 beeps).
6. Transmission will time out at 3 minutes.

That's if the node is analog. I'm operating it now in digital mode:

1. Tune the radio to 144.970 Mhz.
2. Press the Dx key for at least 2 seconds to enable the radio to find the node.
3. When the radio is connected to the node, either:
a. download the node and room list, or
b. direct entry the remote node or room you want to connect to.
4. To disconnect from the remote node, press the * key for at least 2 seconds.

Here's the information:

Radio: Kenwood TM-271 with a packet cable
Frequency: 144.97 Mhz
Tone: None
Antenna: Metz 2 meter vertical
VOIP gateway: Wires-X
Node number: 11129
Location: Loring Park, Minneapolis

902 Mhz band plan and experimental frequencies

Due to the lack of interest (and amateur rigs by the manufacturers) the 33cm band is wide open, if you don't count interference or non-interference from ITS, Part 15 and the ISM radio services. We will dispense with any part of the band plan that does not address spectrum for experimental purposes, data transmission or narrowband FM (i.e. repurposed Motorola GTX and Kenwood units). This is what it looks like here in Minnesota.

902.3125–902.4875 Narrowband FM/DV repeater inputs (25 Khz spacing)
902.500 Simplex (15Khz)
902.8500-902.9750 Narrowband repeater inputs (25 Khz spacing)
902.9875 Narrowband SNP repeater input
903.425-906.975 Digital
916.025-918.975 Digital
927.3125–927.4875 Narrowband repeater outputs (25 KHz spacing)
927.600 Alternate FM Simplex (15 Khz wide channel)
927.700 Alternate FM Simplex (15 Khz wide channel)
927.800 Alternate FM Simplex (15 Khz wide channel)
927.8500-927.9750 Narrowband repeater outputs (25 Khz spacing)
927.9875 Narrowband SNP repeater output

904.00-909.750 and 919.000-928.000 are designated for Intelligent Transportation Systems. They are the primary users of this part of the spectrum and the Amateur Radio Service cannot cause harmful interference. Part 97.303(n)(1)(i-iii) states, that in the 33cm band, Amateur stations must not cause harmful interference to, and must accept interference from, stations authorized by the United States Government; the FCC in the Location and Monitoring Service; and other nations in the fixed service.

Researching 902-928 Mhz on the FCC ULS website, these are the active ITS frequencies in use within 50 miles of a point just south of downtown Minneapolis. They include users like the railroads, spectrum speculators and an airport:

901.95-902.00 (not in affected sub band)
902.25 (not in affected sub band)
903.00 (50K0N0N emission within 2 km of MSP Airport - 25 khz from SNP repeater input)
903.75 (within digital sub band)
904.00-909.75 (within the digital sub band to 906.975)
910.00 (not in affected sub band)
911.50 (not in affected sub band)
913.00 (not in affected sub band)
913.10 (not in affected sub band)
913.75 (not in affected sub band)
915.00 (not in affected sub band)
917.00 (within the digital sub band 916.025-918.975)
917.75 (within the digital sub band 916.025-918.975)
918.50 (within the digital sub band 916.025-918.975)
918.75 (within the digital sub band 916.025-918.975)
921.00 (not in affected sub band)
921.75-927.25 (not in affected sub band)
927.25-927.50 (within Wisconsin simplex sub band)
927.75-928.00 (within simplex and narrow band repeater output sub bands)

You cannot transmit on the SNP frequency within 2 km of MSP International. Generally, you have to be careful about which frequencies you can use and where you can use them. Using FCC ULS search, determine if your signal would radiate on a  frequency and within a bandwidth is in use by a licensed service.

(BTW, I need to update this post with the ITS bandwidth information - that will further restrict Amateur Service use of the band.)

Answer: Yaesu C4FM. Now what was the Question?

Drag me kicking and screaming into the post-AX.25 world so I can be on the cutting edge for once in Amateur Radio. You know the justifications by heart: Let's give Icom D-Star some competition. Don't get suckered into the inexpensive, mass produced Chinese radio that plays "The East is Red" when it's powered up. If we don't buy stuff from the manufacturers they'll just ride into the sunset like Drake, Swan, Hallicrafters. So I figured, yeah, what the hell, there's repeaters being installed, and I need a good dual band rig anyway. Here's my $700.

There are now 3 clubs with Fusion repeaters, received with the blessings of Yaesu as part of a program to catch up to Icom's D-Star - which is already so entrenched that I don't see how Yaesu's (albeit allegedly superior) proprietary system will ever catch up. There's DMR and P25, and these two open-standard modes may supplant both C4FM and D-Star anyway, since they're open. Amateurs (like me) just don't really want to spend all that cash for proprietary systems and - let's be honest here - don't want to be beta testers and pay for the privilege.

Don't get me wrong, the Yaesu FTM-400 is a good unit (though with some bugs - i.e. the blanking of audio when in mixed mode and listening to analog FM, no configuration software like Kenwood) and the ever-present intermod in downtown Minneapolis. I use a duplexer and two quarter wave trunk mount antennas, one for 2 meters and one for 70 cm. Don't even think of using a gain-type dual band antenna. The intermod will be fierce, remedied by use of tone coded squelch.

I have had one - that's right - ONE QSO with a Ham who bought a FT-1DR HT. The digital mode worked - watch out, though, if some packets drop. It's not a pleasant experience. As for repeaters, there are three, all on 70cm: 444.100, 444.300, 444.525 Mhz.

I'll keep the rig for now. If the lack of interest and participation persists in the Metro, I'll just sell the unit to a ham lives in an area with a more active C4FM base.

Constitutional problems with HR 4969

The ARRL is telling us to support
HR 4969 ("Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2014") HR 1301 ("Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015") that would forcibly compel PRB-1 (47 CFR 97.15(b) upon "all types of land-use regulation, including deed restrictions and restrictive covenants":

Except as otherwise provided herein, a station antenna structure may be erected at heights and dimensions sufficient to accommodate amateur service communications. (State and local regulation of a station antenna structure must not preclude amateur service communications. Rather, it must reasonably accommodate such communications and must constitute the minimum practicable regulation to accomplish the state or local authority's legitimate purpose.

Not so fast. The ARRL, Congress and the FCC faces constitutional obstacles before they can impose their will upon private contracts.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
(United States Constitution, Amendment 12)

“No State shall … pass any … Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts … “
(United States Constitution, Article I, Section 10)

According to the ARRL website, there is an exemption for Digital Broadcasting Service and terrestrial television antennas already in law:

Private land use regulation of Amateur antennas is not preempted by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, but most private land use regulation of DBS dishes and TV antennas is. Congress was interested in promoting competition (and thus lowering costs and improving service) in video delivery services.

Is the exemption for DBS and TV antennas itself unconstitutional? Does it not also impair the the contract obligations between two private parties? Answer: yes it does. The proposed legislation would add another unconstitutional provision to the current law. This calls into question the legitimacy of the ARRL's request - to forcibly compel a private party, by government action, to abrogate a private contractual agreement. It is one thing to restriction government action - it is another to restrict lawful private contracts.

Don't want to live under the rules of a homeowners association? Don't buy property or move into a house under their control. Don't commend government to violate or ignore the constitution or the law for your self-interest.

We already have enough of that.

Update: introduction of HR 1301, restate PRB-1.

Limitations on experimental frequencies

Band plans delineate where different Amateur Radio activities co-exist concurrently. Our guidebook, the FCC Rules and Regulations (47 CFR 97.1) states are reason for existence of the Amateur Radio Service:

The rules and regulations in this part are designed to provide an amateur radio service having a fundamental purpose as expressed in the following principles:

(a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications.
(b) Continuation and extension of the amateur's proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art.
(c) Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communication and technical phases of the art.
(d) Expansion of the existing reservoir within the amateur radio service of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts.
(e) Continuation and extension of the amateur's unique ability to enhance international goodwill.


Considering 47 CFR 97.1(b), the Amateur Radio experimental clause, let's take a look at the Minnesota Repeater Council's Band Plans. On 6 meters, 50.600 - 51.000 Mhz (400 Khz) is reserved for "Experimential(sic)/Special Modes"; 2 meters, 145.50 - 145.80 (300 Khz) for "Packet, misc and experimential(sic)"; 1.25 m, none; 420.10 - 420.20 Mhz (100 Khz) for "Auxiliary Links and experimental". For a total allocation of 44 Mhz, designated experimental purposes are assigned 800 Khz, or about 1.812%.

In comparison, the ARRL Band Plans allocates 6 meters with 50.30 - 50.60 Mhz for "All modes", 50.60 - 50.8 Mhz for "Nonvoice communications"; 2 meters, 145.50 - 145.80 (300 Khz) for "Miscellaneous and experimental modes"; 1.25 meters, 222.15 - 222.25 Mhz and 223.71 -223.85 Mhz for "Local coordinator's option; FM simplex, packet, repeater outputs"; 70 cm, 420.00 -426.00 Mhz for "ATV repeater or simplex with 421.25 MHz video carrier control links and experimental". For a total allocation of 44 Mhz, designated experimental purposes are assigned 6.3 Mhz, or 14.3%. unevenly distributed in favor of 70 cm. I need to write to the ARRL for clarification about the definition of "local coordination's option", if it includes experimental.

Question: how many coordination requests have there been for ATV repeaters? MRC lists only one in the entire state for 70cm and below: Wabasha 439.250/431.250 Mhz (uplink/downlink). If you're above Line A, you will be excluded from the 420 - 430 Mhz section of 70cm. This effectively destroys the sub-band, leaving 2 Mhz for ATV simplex from 430 - 432 Mhz, leaving no possibility for ATV repeater coordination north of Line A.

We also need to consider the local frequency coordinator. There are two FCC rules concerning this - 47 CFR 97.3(a)(22) and 47 CFR 97.201(c):

Frequency coordinator. An entity, recognized in a local or regional area by amateur operators whose stations are eligible to be auxiliary or repeater stations, that recommends transmit/receive channels and associated operating and technical parameters for such stations in order to avoid or minimize potential interference. 47 CFR 97.3(a)(22).

Where an auxiliary station causes harmful interference to another auxiliary station, the licensees are equally and fully responsible for resolving the interference unless one station's operation is recommended by a frequency coordinator and the other station's is not. In that case, the licensee of the non-coordinated auxiliary station has primary responsibilty(sic) to resolve the interference. 47 CFR 97.201(c).


Don't forget about good operating practice, 47 CFR 97.201(a)-(d):

(a) In all respects not specifically covered by FCC Rules each amateur station must be operated in accordance with good engineering and good amateur practice.
(b) Each station licensee and each control operator must cooperate in selecting transmitting channels and in making the most effective use of the amateur service frequencies. No frequency will be assigned for the exclusive use of any station.
(c) At all times and on all frequencies, each control operator must give priority to stations providing emergency communications, except to stations transmitting communications for training drills and tests in RACES.
(d) No amateur operator shall willfully or maliciously interfere with or cause interference to any radio communication or signal.


Band plans are entirely voluntary, however, if you deviate from "good amateur practice" (read: accepted amateur radio practice) , you will incur the wrath of your fellow operators in the Amateur Radio Service and the FCC will descendeth upon you in the form of a Notice of Violation.

Looking at it another way, each band plan is divided between coordinated and non-coordinated frequencies. For 6 meters, the MRC coordinates 4 Mhz (50%); 2 meters, 2.16 Mhz (54%); 1.25 cm, 2.24 Mhz (74.7%); 70 cm, 22.175 Mhz (73.9 %). Above Line A, the 70 cm total is 16.175 Mhz (53.9 %) with the ATV repeater sub-bands rendered effectively useless.

IMHO, the band plans need to be updated.