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PROPOSED QSY OF IARU REGION-1 BEACONS

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David, G4ASR

Fri Nov 06 2009, 03:07PM
I have just written this paper in my role as RSGB VHF Manager and member of the IARU Region-1 VHF/UHF Committee. It will be presented at the IARU Region-1 *Interim* meeting in Vienna, March 2010. Please note that this is not the Full Conference (being held in 2011) and that this paper cannot be ratified until then. However it can be agreed in principle at the interim meeting. If agreed any moves would take up to 12-month following the 2011 conference - ie 2012. The basic idea is to create an increased (100kHz) beacon band and at the same time create a far wider exclusive c.w. band at the bottom end of the 50MHz band. Please feedback comments here (preferred) or via my email address.

PROPOSED CHANGE TO THE 50MHz BEACON SUB-BAND.

BACKGROUND

At the IARU Region 1 Conference, Cavtat, 2008 the French Society REF introduced paper CT08_C5_40: Narrow frequency band on the 145MHz band for an automatic reporting beacon network (WSPR).

The meeting was comfortable with the recommendation in the paper but the suggestion was made that it might be helpful to assign frequencies on 50MHz and 70MHz for similar purposes.

The RSGB VHF Manager G4ASR reported back on his investigations into suitable frequencies and recommended the use of 50.400MHz not only for WSPR but as a possible precursor to a later step to move the beacon band up to that area of the 50MHz band.

The recommendation was carried unanimously and the RSGB (G4ASR) was requested to prepare a draft paper for the Interim Meeting, Vienna, 2010 regarding a revised beacon band around 50.400MHz.

CURRENT SITUATION

The 50MHz band plan shows that Telegraphy (cw) is allocated 50.000 – 50.100MHz.

However the sub-band 50.000 - 50.080MHz is currently allocated to propagation beacons.

This only leaves 20kHz for exclusive cw usage.

The 50MHz band within IARU Region 1 is now very popular and it will prove advantageous to move the current beacon sub-band higher in frequency to provide further additional bandwidth for cw usage.

PROPOSAL

That the 50MHz beacon sub-band within IARU Region-1 be moved to 50.400 – 50.500MHz.

That the sub-band 50.000 – 50.100MHz be allocated for Telegraphy (Exclusive) usage.


NOTE

Other IARU regions may need to be consulted but it is useful to note that the ARRL band plan shows that 50.000-50.100MHz is already allocated to cw usage.



A 20kHz slot 50.060-50.080MHz is currently allocated to a beacon sub-band.

Furthermore the area 50.300-50.600MHz is allocated to all modes that can include cw usage.



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Ken, G4IGO
Fri Nov 06 2009, 05:09PM
Ken, G4IGO
Registered Member #31
Joined: Tue Mar 18 2008, 08:16PM

Posts: 62
Hello David. I agree - however I suggest that we look at also moving the EME band down to the lower 20 or 30 kHz - eg 50000 to 50030. This will not hurt the CW portion (500030 and above) and will stop any possible conflict in the mainly used part of the band.
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Trev, G3ZYY
Mon Mar 22 2010, 10:57PM
Trev, G3ZYY

Registered Member #13
Joined: Tue Mar 18 2008, 01:43PM

Posts: 143
Some of you will have seen that IARU Region 1, prompted by an RSGB proposal are preparing to vote in favour of moving the 50MHz beacon band from its current location, roughly 50.0 to 50.09, to an area above 50.4 MHz. At a meeting in February this, along with some other changes, were agreed and will be ratified at a meeting to be held shortly. It is intended that all beacons in Region 1 will have moved by the end of 2012 and any not complying will be closed down at that point. The key extract from the minutes of this meeting is reproduced below:

"Recommendation: To move the beacon band to 50.400-50.500 by end-2012. Beacons not moved by end-2012 to be closed down. A footnote to be added that some countries are currently unable, for regulatory reasons, to have beacons in that part of the band and would be exempt from the deadline until such time as their regulator permits the move, but will still be listed in the Region 1 beacon list. The recommendation was agreed unanimously and will be taken to the EC for ratification."

A copy of the minutes can be read here:

The committee of UKSMG (with one exception) are of the opinion that this move needs to be reconsidered for several reasons which are outlined below:

1. Experience dictates that propagation at 50MHz regularly tails off quite sharply and often within band which could lead to a useable path at 50.1 MHz whilst no path exists at 50.3 MHz and above. The broad frequency footprint of F2 at HF makes this a non issue for those bands; similarly, lack of F2 at 144MHz (and for all practical purposes at 70MHz) leaves this as an issue peculiar to 50MHz.

2. Any move of the beacon sub band will need to be agreed with other Regions before any alternate use can be made of the released spectrum. As far as we are aware, this has not been agreed with other Regions (at least several key operators in Region 2 - The Americas, appear unaware of these proposals).

3. If these proposals are ratified, the intention appears to be to re-arrange the bandplan below 50.1 MHz despite the fact that other Regions appear not to have agreed a similar move. We believe that this will play havoc with spotting long haul beacons below 50.1MHz during the likely peak of the next Cycle.

4. 2012, just two years away and likely to be at the Cycle peak, has been designated the QSY or shut down year. This has to be the worst possible time to contemplate such a move. Regardless of the merit or otherwise of this proposal, these timescales are far too short for a change of this magnitude.

5. Perhaps a lesser issue, but significant nonetheless, is that of antenna bandwidth. Many DX grade (for want of a better term) antennas tail off in performance below 50.4 MHz further reducing the usefulness of the beacons as propagation indicators over marginal paths.

We realise that this is an emotive issue and that not everyone will agree with the position the committee has taken. We do feel however that despite some feelers late last year (see posts above this) the full implications of these changes have not been fully considered.

The committee have written (by email) to RSGB to outline our concerns some two weeks ago but have yet to receive a response. Timescales for effecting any change to these proposals are tight hence the need to discuss this now.

If you feel strongly enough about this to comment either for or against the proposals then please append your comments below. We are interested to hear what our members both inside and outside Region 1 think of this proposal. Please respond, if you don't have time to add to your response a simple agree with the RSGB proposal or disagree will suffice.

Thanks,
Trev G3ZYY

[ Edited Mon Mar 22 2010, 11:09PM ]
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Adam, VK4CP
Tue Mar 23 2010, 03:19AM
Adam, VK4CP
Registered Member #113
Joined: Tue Apr 01 2008, 09:48PM

Posts: 2
At times like this, keep the emotion to one side, think rationally, stick to the fact, and above all else, "keep it real"

Questions (that some people may find uncomfortable) need to be asked:
Is beacon XYZ actually capable of serving as a useful F2 early warning indicator?

Yes > Keep beneath 50.100

No > Move it, it becomes a totally moot point if it is only useful for Es.

What is a "useful beacon"?
A beacon that approximates a typical modest ham station.
ie; an EIRP similar to that of 100W > 5 element yagi.
Whether it be a lower powered TX into a higher gain antennae, or it be a higher powered TX into a more modest antennae system, nobody cares.

There is no point having beacons if they are not serving their desired purpose, ie; being an useful early warning indicator.

How often do we tune around for beacons AFTER we have worked the DX?
All too often, so what is the point exactly?

With the closing down of 45/46/48MHz analogue TV TXes across the world, this view point becomes even more valid.



[ Edited Tue Mar 23 2010, 03:20AM ]
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Peter, G8BCG
Tue Mar 23 2010, 01:37PM
Peter, G8BCG
Registered Member #14
Joined: Tue Mar 18 2008, 01:48PM

Posts: 20
This seems like a remarkable piece of arrogance - regulation by our own national societies "for our own good" with little or no consultation!

Please, if it ain't broke - DON'T fix it.

Those with any experience of solar peaks, F2, TEP and the like know that the global network of beacons generally below 50.080 are the single most useful aid to propagation study.

I'm in EA8 right now and over the last few days I've heard and reported many beacons BEFORE the band was know to be open.

Examples -
heard LU5EGY/B spotted, called cq worked PT7ZAP
heard PR8ZIX/B spotted, called cq worked PY2ZXU
heard ZD8CHF/B spotted daily
heard OA4/B for 35 mins spotted, called cq worked.... nothing ah well.

I can't imaging these and other beacons useful to us in EU and Region 1 will move any time soon regardless of the IARU Region 1 decision. However, OUR beacons serve as great indicators to others - if we move them above 50.400 closer or above the F2 muf, where antennas don't work so well and where there is nothing else to warrant random tuning then there use will be seriously reduced.

To contemplate moving them at or around cycle peak is sheer madness - not emotion - FACT!

To me the RSGB has always been an Aligator organisation - big mouth small ears - let's hope I'm wrong on this one.

73 EA8/G8BCG
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Tony , EI7BMB
Tue Mar 23 2010, 02:13PM
Tony , EI7BMB
Registered Member #18
Joined: Tue Mar 18 2008, 04:00PM

Posts: 12
I'm wondering why the move has to go so high in the band , would have thought 50.200 up would limit the "fall off" problems. EME could move down as proposed earlier in the thread . Would MS work be affected greatly by moving up the band a little ?
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Zaba, OH1ZAA
Tue Mar 23 2010, 02:27PM
Zaba, OH1ZAA
Registered Member #123
Joined: Thu Apr 03 2008, 02:54PM

Posts: 25
Despite today's SDR-receivers, "good beacons" are those that can be reached with one tick of a finger on the tune-knob of an old-fashioned receiver (still in wide use) when quickly departing from one's own operating range. Ideally good beacons are easily detectable (pings) over meteor-scatter in the 1000 - 1600 km range. Stacked 2-level omni antennas with 50 watts out suffice for that. Beacon transmissions are preferably uninterrupted, so that knowledge of exact time is not necessary. Actually I am looking for a digital mode independent of timing, embedded in the regular Beacon CW ID to allow digital identification at sub-audible signal levels, a sort of a-synchronous WSPR independent of the Morse alfabeth and unnoticeable to the CW-listener.
Practice shows that some beacons get immediately serviced at failure, but others will stay off the air for years, or even not reappear when forced to move. Personally I would like to see a new concept of a garbage frequency or a 1 kHz wide band, say e.g. around 50.039 where anyone could offer "as much noise as available" within one's license limits but without conducting any QSO's. The general procedure would be to start ID-transmissions there in order to wake up the world, and then move to formal operating bands to commence regular CQ's (and return down to the garbage when unsuccessful). At this point I support keeping the beacons at their positions, with a tendency to pack it all to a smaller range. The more beacons (or managed garbage), the better!
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Ken, G4IGO
Tue Mar 23 2010, 02:49PM
Ken, G4IGO
Registered Member #31
Joined: Tue Mar 18 2008, 08:16PM

Posts: 62
The point I do think should be addressed is, that as far as I am aware , the fact that RSGB is the only organisation that can represent the 50 mhz UK at regional discussions etc. and that the organisation that represents ( has as its prime directive) the 50 mhz users in the UK ( and of course others in the world) has no voice. How ever I am sure that David, as a user of 50 and with a long history will do his best to reflect the views / wishes of those that decide to make their views known. Again I do point out that David did canvass for input last year - why such a reaction now - why didnt people submit thier views then?.
Whilst I am not a great supporter of RSGB we should bare in mind it is David, as VHF Manager who is putting OUR views forward - and by the looks of it he didnt get many views to go on last year.
Anyway - I look forward to a serious discussion on the topic.
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Miguel, EA4EOZ
Tue Mar 23 2010, 03:41PM
Miguel, EA4EOZ
Registered Member #1229
Joined: Tue Mar 23 2010, 01:26PM

Posts: 5
Hello everybody!

I get pointed to this thread by G4IGO on ON4KST Chat and invited me to give my oppinion. Remember english is not my everyday language, but I'll try to do my best.

My experience in six is somewhat limited: Active since 2008 because of local TV on channel 2 (EATV), but SWL for almost a decade, so my opinion is formed with the things I have observed in this area of the world.

Since beacons are suposed to be early indicators of propagation, they must be located at the bottom of the band, why? Many experienced 6m operators have noticed the sharp MUF cutt-off of some propagation modes like F2, so the first frequencies to be opened, are the bottom of the band.

What we want to hear when the MUF reach 50 MHz? Beacons or operators? Operators are not 24 hours a day QRV or calling on six, so those openings will not be noticed. We need beacons at the lower end of the band. Also do not forget many beacons are located in very remote areas and modifications could not be an easy task.

There is a problem indeed in region 1 bandplan:

50.000 to 50.080 is reserved for beacons
50.080 to 50.100 is reserved for CW
50.100 to 50.130 is the intercontinental segment, with 50.110 the calling frequency.

It is supposed you can use frecuencies over 50.130 for all your contacts, but in practice, you are limited to the 50.130-50.210 segment, maybe up to 50.220. Why?

During big openings, there are a lot of digital traffic between 50.220 - 50.250, so nobody uses frecuencies over 50.250 for contacts. Try to call on 50.275 or 50.300 during a major Es opening... you'll die of boredom.

SSB contacts are restricted to the 50.130 - 50.220 MHz only. 90 kHz for a big Es opening in Europe is too small segment for SSB. 20 kHz for CW is ridiculous.

From my point of view, activity on the band is limited by two problems: 50.110 (and the intercontinental segment) and the digital frecuencies. They are to big boundaries that limit us a lot the usage of the band.

What would I propose?

I'll reserve the first 100 kHz of the band for beacons.
50.100 to 50.200 CW exclusive.
50.200 the new calling frecuency
50.200 to 50.400 SSB.
50.400 - 50.500 Digimodes

In this way, 50.110 could remain as the CW calling frecuency, and the european calling frecuency (mostly for Es) could be moved to 50.250, and the intercontinental segment (if needed) could be stablished around 50.200, for example, 50.175 - 50.225.

Why I said "international segment if needed"? Because during all major USA openings, stations spread out along the 50.110 - 50.200 segment, and everyone works DX, so almost no local QSOs during an opening.

In resume: Yes, there is a problem in the 50 MHz Region 1 bandplan, but the solution does not need to move beacons. Move operators instead beacons. Much easier for all of us.
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Dave, M3FXM
Tue Mar 23 2010, 06:27PM
Dave, M3FXM
Registered Member #20
Joined: Tue Mar 18 2008, 04:51PM

Posts: 5
I'm seriously reconsidering my RSGB membership. remind me what do they do for me again?
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