by Gordon West, WB6NOA
Skywave single-sideband reception of the marine radio frequencies is a 24/7 catch. At night, tune in from 2 MHz to 8 MHz to hear everything from shrimp boats to super tankers. In the mornings, tune 8 MHz and 12 MHz for roll call weather reports. And during the day, 12- and 16-MHz marine channels are full of activity, including hair-raising distress calls. For the ham "floaters," licensed amateur radio operators plying the high seas, tune 14.300 upper sideband and sail along with high seas skywave action. It's easy, it's exciting, and it’s tunable from anywhere in the country! The Who, Where, And What Of The Marine Bands Long-range ocean voyagers do not need a ham radio license for unlimited access to their international single-sideband marine channels. With the diversity and shear volume of radio traffic on the airwaves, there's no lack of fascinating communications to listen to. For reception anywhere in the country, you can start by monitoring the frequencies given in the "Marine Band Channels" chart. That ought to keep you busy for quite a while! At each MHz band, maritime frequencies have been allocated on an international basis. A commercial ship or private sailboat will use most of the same marine channels throughout a global voyage. Two-MHz channels are assigned regionally, and here in the United States, mariners have additional 4-MHz and 8-MHz SSB channels shared with the Fixed Service. No licensing FCC exam is required to obtain a Ship Station License and the Restricted Radiotelephone Operator permit to operate medium-power marine SSB gear. The FCC Ship Station License callsign consists of 3 letters and 4 numbers, and is valid
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Washington Beat Capitol Hill And FCC Actions Affecting Communications
by Richard Fisher, KI6SN
APCO Implements EmComm Restoration Plan In HaitiA Haitian emergency communications restoration plan by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International was implemented in mid-February when "telecommunications operators unilaterally turned on their 1-1-4 emergency call system and rerouted traffic to the secondary public safety answering point (PSAP) managed by the Haitian National Police (HNP) at their Patco Police Headquarters," APCO reported on its website. "Following the earthquake on Jan. 12, the two known Haitian PSAPs that answered 1-1-4 were reportedly destroyed," the organization said. "The Haitian National Police Land Mobile Radio (LMR) system, which consists of a threesite trunked system, was also largely damaged and much of the supporting wire line infrastructure destroyed." APCO said its plan “not only covers an immediate phased approach to a solution, but includes recommended long-term support and training for the Haitian people. The restoration plan was vetted by the FCC, the Department of Homeland Security National Communications System and the State Department USAID and acted upon by the Haitian government, implementing the first phase of APCO International's recommended restoration."
Spectrum: Wireless Applications In TV "White Space" Tested in North CarolinaFrequencies vacated when television broadcast channels made the switch from analog to digital in 2009 are being utilized for wireless applications in areas of North Carolina. Wilmington and the county region of New Hanover are among the first communities to test applications using TV white space technology. According to a story by Marguerite Reardon for CNET. com, "the city and county have partnered with TV Band Service and Spectrum Bridge to launch a new experimental network that uses white space spectrum to provide wireless connectivity to surveillance cameras and environmental sensors in a 'smart city' deployment." One application provides links for traffic cameras to provide traffic monitoring for the department of transportation. In another application, "white space spectrum is being used to wirelessly connect cameras in city parks to police for surveillance. Radios are also set up in city parks to provide free Wi-Fi access to residents and city workers," Reardon wrote. In a third, "the city and county are using the white space network to remotely monitor and manage wetland areas to comply with EPA regulations."
Spectrum: FCC Grants Waiver For Robotics In 430-448 MHz BandThe FCC has granted a waiver to a Minneapolisbased company for operation of a surveillance robot using frequencies in the 430-448 MHz band—spectrum allocated to the Amateur Radio Service and the Federal Government Radiolocation Service. According to a report in the American Radio Relay League's ARRL Letter, ReconRobotics in January 2008 "filed a request with the FCC for a waiver of Part 90 of the Commission's Rules with respect to the Recon Scout—a remote-controlled, maneuverable surveillance robot designed for use in areas that may be too hazardous for human entry. "A waiver is required to permit licensing of the Recon Scout because the device operates in the 430–448 MHz band, which is allocated to the Federal Government Radiolocation service on a primary basis," the League report said, "as well as the Amateur Radio Service and certain non-federal radiolocation systems on a secondary basis. More than two years later, the FCC [has] granted the waiver request in the form of an Order (WP Docket No 08-63), subject to certain conditions." In May 2008, the ARRL called on the FCC to deny ReconRobotics' waiver request, "either permanently or even temporarily." The FCC noted that the comments it received generally consisted "of public safety and law enforcement entities supporting the waiver request, and amateur radio operators opposing it."
Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Act Of 2009 Garners House SupportA Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives has pledged his support of the Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Act of 2009, bringing to 34 the number of co-sponsors of the legislation, designated HR 2160. Jo Bonner (R-AL-1) joined other members of Congress in backing the bill, introduced by U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX-18) and written to "promote and encourage the valuable public service, disaster relief, and emergency communications provided on a volunteer basis” by radio amateurs "by undertaking a study of the uses of amateur radio for emergency and disaster relief communications, by identifying unnecessary or unreasonable impediments to the deployment of Amateur Radio emergency and disaster relief communications, and by making recommendations for relief of such unreasonable restrictions so as to expand the uses of amateur radio communications in Homeland Security planning and response."
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Global Information Guide Surrogates In Pakistan And Iran, Radio Prague Still Stirring, And More