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.


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.