This document sets out some "Rules" to be observed when operating on the "600 Metre Band". It also provides details on the long term objective and the short term goals. Background information is given, drawn from other similar activities in other countries, and their intentions.
These "Rules" are an essential part of our "self regulation" as radio amateurs. They have been proposed by NZART, and been accepted by Radio Spectrum Management of the Ministry of Economic Development, as part of their approval to grant us interim access to this "new" spectrum. (These "Rules" are similar in principle to those adopted in 2006 for access to two spot frequencies near 5 MHz for AREC use).
NZART has appointed the Suburban Amateur Radio Club (SARC), Branch 86 of NZART, to be the "Project Manager" and "Band Manager" for this temporary access to the 600 metre band on a "non interference basis" (NIB), until further notice. (See further details in Section 6 below).
These "Rules" apply from 01-March-2010
2. Long Term Objective
In 2007 at the ITU World Radiocommunications Conference WRC-07 in Geneva a new Agenda Item 1.23 was approved for the next WRC in 2011 (WRC-11). This was a significant gain. The Agenda Item is "to consider an allocation of about 15 kHz in parts of the band 415 -
526.5 kHz to the amateur service on a secondary basis, taking into account the need to protect existing services". It is now important that we get operational experience in this band, gather data and information, and use it as inputs to the detailed case that we will need to submit to WRC-11. This information is also needed for the prior cycles of the Asia - Pacific APT Regional Preparatory Meetings (APG's). Without a strong case we will not get a permanent allocation.
3. The "600 Metre Band" in NZ
The key points accepted and approved by the MED for access to a 600 metre band are:
* NZ radio amateurs are allowed access to transmit only between 505 - 510 kHz * Access will be on a temporary and "non interference basis" (NIB), until further notice
* Notes 2 and 4 to the Allocation Table of our General User Radio Licence apply
* Only "narrow band" modes will be used - CW (Morse code A1A) or other modes with less than 1 kHz bandwidth.
No e.i.r.p. limits on radiated power are set. It is accepted that the amateur radio power limit shown in paragraph (5) of the GURL is sufficient and understandable. In practice it is difficult enough to get energy radiated at 500 kHz with the short, loaded antennas that will typically be used. Measuring e.i.r.p. is difficult. It is not expected that large numbers of amateurs will use the 600 meter band due to the difficulty of radiating a sufficient signal - it will become a specialised but important part of our activities.
4. "Non Interference Basis" (NIB) Access
The first and most specific objective is to ensure that we can operate without causing any interference to existing services.
A major condition of access is that operation by radio amateurs in this band is on a strict NONINTERFERENCE basis to any non-amateur user. This means that if the band is busy with other traffic, or if a non-amateur station suddenly appears, ALL AMATEUR TRAFFIC MUST CEASE. Failure to observe this requirement will jeopardise the access arrangement. This interim access between 505 - 510 kHz is NOT an amateur band.
Other users in adjacent sub-bands are known to be the NAVTEX service (on 490 kHz and 518 kHz), some Non-directional beacons (NDBs) and Differential GPS (DPGS) systems. There are still prohibitions on operating in the 495 - 505 kHz range.
5. Short Term Goals
It is intended that those amateurs participating in operations at 500 kHz (the "600 meter band") will collect data and information on, and have as general objectives:
* Investigations into ultra reliable communications via ground wave (valuable for emergency use)
* Study of a unique propagation and noise environment (especially NZ conditions)
* Experiments with antennas, modulation methods, digital signal processing, weak and long distance signals (to determine optimum parameters and systems) It is expected that the frequencies at about 500 kHz will be useful for ground wave regional communications between all stations in a "party line" network (optimum out to about a 100 - 300 km range), with the potential for use for emergency communications. This frequency is near the geometric mean of our existing bands at 135 kHz and 1.8 MHz. It is not dependent on the ionosphere or affected by solar events etc.
Little application of "modern technology" has been applied to this frequency band, so we should look to use DSP and computer processing of weak signals and data modes. As well as conventional CW; computer based QRSS (slow CW), narrow band data modes like PSK31 and other narrow band modes (MSK, QPSK etc.) can be used. These all need to be tested.
Propagation is also possible by sky wave for "DX communications" (relatively speaking). This will be affected by the "D layer", with daytime and night time propagation. Range and reliability need to be ascertained. Some types of data modes will be better suited to the more variable nature of sky waves than others.
"Sub - bands" in the 5 KHz wide slot will probably need to be defined to allow orderly operation (DX window, Beacons, QRSS operation, Calling frequency etc.). An example is given in Table 1 of the QEX article referenced below that may be worth following.
"Beacon type" operation could be considered, but it could be prudent to be an "attended" beacon, or be capable of rapid close down by remote control if interference was reported.
6. Project and Band Management
NZART has appointed the Suburban Amateur Radio Club (SARC), Branch 86 to be the "Project Manager" and "Band Manager" for this temporary access to the 600 metre band on a "non interference basis" (NIB), until further notice. SARC have a special interest in this part of the spectrum, and a good location at their club site at the "Musick Memorial Radio Station" at Musick Point, Bucklands Beach, Auckland. Contact is via their Call Book address or to Ian Walker ZL1BFB at ZL1BFB@xtra.co.nz . Further details will be issued by SARC.
7. Operating Practices
Normal amateur radio procedures; and the requirements of the amateur radio GURL and the Radio Regulations are to be observed. Amateur call signs must be used and regular station identification will be required.
When you commence operating, please check and confirm your frequency accuracy, the stability and the signal quality of your transmitter. Please check for "out of band" emissions that would interfere with other users. Get your signal checked by another amateur station.
8. Activities Not Allowed
NO amateur radio contest type activity and NO amateur radio award activity at any time. If you work a "DX Station", please be sure that it is a licensed and permitted station in the Amateur Service. Some "cross frequency" contacts may be permissible. Use common sense.
9. Reports and Reporting
It is important that all operators using the 600 metre band keep log records and regularly report results to the Project Manager. Reports are important to ensure that data is collected to support the world wide inputs required by the IARU for Agenda Item 1.23 at WRC-11. To keep continuing access to frequencies in this band we must collect and provide information about the purpose being served by, and the usefulness of, frequencies near 500 kHz for amateur radio operations.
Operators must report a summary of activities at the end of each month to the Project Manager. In turn, the Project Manager is requested to send a summary report at the end of each Quarter (March, June, September and December) by email to the Administration Liaison Officer (ALO), Don Wallace ZL2TLL at Don.Wallace@clear.net.nz .
A standardised format will be drawn up and provided by the Project Manager for this purpose. The name, call sign and contact details of the reporter are requested with each report for any possible follow up needed. A possible layout for an Excel spreadsheet would include Date / Time (start and finish) / Station (worked or heard) / Frequency / Mode / Signal reports (sent and received) / Equipment (power output and antenna) / Comments and notes.
10. Background Information
It is noted that access to parts of this spectrum, under various conditions and experimental licences have now been granted by the administrations of a number of countries - most recently by Canada in November 2008. The USA, Great Britain, Germany, Sweden, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Romania are also participating in 500 kHz experiments.
Two useful references that contain background, operational and construction information are:
* QST March 2008, pages 43 - 45 These articles are based on the ARRL sponsored 500 kHz experiments in the USA.
(These Rules have been developed by NZART, and approved by the RSM Group of the Ministry of Economic Development. These conditions must be observed as a part of the MED granting NZ amateur operators interim access to 505 - 510 kHz from xx MMMMM 2009.)
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