FORMULATING A COHERENT RESPONSE TO ARRL RM 11708 / FCC DOCKET 16-239 NPRM

FORMULATING A COHERENT RESPONSE TO ARRL RM 11708 / FCC DOCKET 16-239 NPRM

Background on ARRL Petition RM 11708 / FCC Docket 16-239 NPRM

In November, 2013, the ARRL filed a Symbol Rate Petition with the FCC, requesting that a maximum bandwidth of 2.8 kHz be established for all data emissions below 29.7 MHz.  The FCC assigned RM (Rulemaking) number 11708 to this petition and subsequently requested comments from the public.  From March 2014 to present (Sep 2016), 80% of the amateur radio operators who have sent comments to the FCC on this RM have expressed opposition to RM 11708.  You can view comments that have been posted to the FCC regarding the ARRL’s petition RM 11708 here.  

The FCC issued Docket 16-239 NPRM (July, 2016) in response to ARRL’s RM 11708.  NPRM stands for Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.  The FCC is currently requesting comments on its soon-to-be-enacted Docket 16-239 NPRM , but anyone interested in filing a comment on RM 11708 / Docket 16-239 NPRM must do so prior to the Oct 11, 2016 filing deadline.  Of the approximately 100 comments that have been filed with the FCC to date, 89% of those responding  have expressed opposition to Docket 16-239 NPRM.  The majority of amateur radio operators who responded to this NPRM cited the need for a bandwidth limit in the RTTY/data subbands in order to protect the narrow band modes from unlimited bandwidth  transmissions.   You can view comments that have been posted to the FCC regarding Docket  16-239 NPRM here.

The Issues

In RM 11708 / Docket 16-239 NPRM, the FCC is requesting comments on two issues relating to data communications:

  1. Should the 300 baud limit be eliminated, thereby removing all limitations on baud rate?
  2. Should there be any bandwidth limit for RTTY and data emissions in the MF and HF bands?

Read More Read More

Why Should CW/RTTY Ops Care About ARRL RM 11708 / FCC Docket 16-239 NPRM?

Why Should CW/RTTY Ops Care About ARRL RM 11708 / FCC Docket 16-239 NPRM?

The FCC has recently announced a Notice of Proposed Rule Making, RM 11708 / Docket 16-239 NPRM, which will have significant implications for those amateur radio operators who enjoy CW and RTTY modes. The impetus for this proposed new rule was a petition from ARRL (2013) that all RTTY and data transmissions below 29.7 MHz be limited to a maximum bandwidth of 2.8 kHz.

In their response to ARRL’s petition, FCC has stated that,

“We decline, however, to propose to add a 2.8 kilohertz bandwidth limitation for RTTY and data emissions in the MF/HF bands as requested by the ARRL Petition.”

FCC further states that,

“We tentatively agree that a baud rate restriction has become unnecessary due to advances in modulation techniques, and no longer serves a useful purpose. Our rules do not impose a symbol rate limit on data emissions in any other amateur bands or in any other radio service. In addition, removing the baud rate restriction could encourage individuals to more fully utilize the amateur service in experimentation and could promote innovation, more efficient use of the radio spectrum currently allocated to the amateur service, and the ability of the amateur service to support public safety efforts in the event of an emergency…”

What does this mean for CW and RTTY operators?

Read More Read More

WQ4RP Lightning Protection System

WQ4RP Lightning Protection System

Having witnessed firsthand what lightning can do to a completely unprotected station, I decided to do things differently when the time came to rebuild the Excalibur Site.

The following photo is from a lightning strike that entered the shack five years ago via a balanced feedline.  There was no grounding system in place, so the lightning energy flowed through a wall stud and an ARRL Antenna Handbook on the book shelf on its way to ground.  The wall stud burned almost completely through, and the thick handbook was turned to fine ash.  The building was subsequently dismantled.

lightning strike at AA4XX radio shack turns ARRL Antenna Handbook into powdery ash

Read More Read More

WQ4RP Shack Gets a New Floor

WQ4RP Shack Gets a New Floor

Many hours were spent deciding on which type of flooring would be best suited for the WQ4RP remote radio shack.

In the end, southern yellow pine 1″x 6″ lumber won out, as this is the same type of flooring I installed in my log home almost forty years ago, and I knew this type of flooring would send the message that you are now entering a special place.

The pine boards were installed over a red vapor barrier.  The vapor barrier limits the amount of moisture that can migrate into the shack from the ground.  The pine boards were just a few inches longer than the 12′ length of the building, so with a little trimming the installation went quickly.  This is not tongue and groove– I simply selected the straightest boards I could find at my local Home Depot Lumber Department and arranged the boards for minimal gapping.  This method worked out very well.

Excalibur SYP Flooring

Read More Read More

Excalibur II Site Improvements – Drywall

Excalibur II Site Improvements – Drywall

Since it has been several months since the last report on the rebuilding of the KnightLite’s QRP operating site WQ4RP, I wanted to share some of the things the KnightLites have been up to.

In April, Marty W4MY spearheaded the installation of drywall for the walls and ceiling of the shack.  Our Drywall Fest team consisted of Marty W4MY, Marc W4MPS, Chris AA4OO, Dick N4HAY, et moi AA4XX.

Excalibur Sheetrock 1

W4MPS (L) and W4MY (R) cutting drywall

Read More Read More

CQWW160M CW Contest from KnightLite’s Excalibur QRP Antenna Site

CQWW160M CW Contest from KnightLite’s Excalibur QRP Antenna Site

Dick (N4HAY/ZS6RSH) and I decided to enter the CQWW160M CW Contest  as a multi-op,  meaning two or more operators share a single transmitter and callsign. As there is no QRP multi-op category for this contest, we would be competing with stations running KW amplifiers.

The advantages of running QRP multi-op is that we could both plan on getting some sleep during the long 5PM-8AM nite time shifts, we were working toward a common goal, and we could operate assisted mode.  

Our main goal was to have fun and to see how our newly constructed Excalibur 160M vertical would play.

Station WQ4RP

Station WQ4RP consisted of a Ten Tec Argonaut VI, running 5W output into the Excalibur vertical loop.  We used N1MM+ logger with a WinKeyer.

 

CQWW160 CW 2016 station

Read More Read More

Building a 160M Vertical Loop with Elevated Counterpoise

Building a 160M Vertical Loop with Elevated Counterpoise

Initial Planning

Several years ago, I had the good fortune to be introduced to Gene Bowman, WB4MSG, at the Winston-Salem Hamfest.  I recognized Gene’s callsign because of his top place finishes in many contests.  I was particularly interested in what kind of antenna he used on Top Band.

Gene told me that if I had a few minutes, he would be glad to have me come by his house so I could see his antenna farm.  I was fascinated to learn that Gene had placed 1st Place QRP World during the recent CQWW160M SSB Contest with his 160M loop. Gene mentioned that a full write up of his 160M antenna appeared in Jan 2010 QST  (160 Meter Inverted Delta Loop by Charles Kluttz, W4TMR,  pp.40-41).

I built my own version of Charlie’s 160M loop shortly thereafter and was quite pleased with its performance.  The vertically polarized loop showed noticeable gain over my high 160M dipole for stations beyond my local area, and after a short while I found myself no longer using the dipole.

As a result of a severe lightning storm in August 2011, all my antennas were damaged to the extent that I had to start all over from scratch.  Fast forward to Jan 2016, it was high time to get back in the game. With the help of two local QRP friends Chris N4PBQ, and Dick N4HAY, plans were hatched to resurrect the Excalibur Antenna Farm, beginning with a Top Band antenna.  It was decided to rebuild a version of the W4TMR Vertical Loop.

 

N4PBQ digging hole for 160M support post

Chris, N4PBQ digging the hole for the support post

Read More Read More

Knightlites Excalibur Site Gets a New Radio Shack

Knightlites Excalibur Site Gets a New Radio Shack

A few months ago, Dick N4HAY, Richard N4PBQ, and I spent a number of hours cleaning up the remains of the original Excalibur radio shack, a site that has hosted many QRP events over the past ten years.   As some of you may recall, The original shack was substantially damaged by a direct lightning strike during the Fall of 2011.

Moving forward, we are pleased to report that a fairly large supply of building material was delivered to the KnightLite’s Excalibur antenna site on Jan 1, 2016.

 

Excalibur building materials delivered

Read More Read More

A QRP Odyssey to Portsmouth Island

A QRP Odyssey to Portsmouth Island


Throughout my life, I have often felt the need to seek nature’s solitude.  When I was a young lad, I would walk a couple miles to my best friend’s house, and then we would continue walking to one of several farm ponds on the outskirts of our small town to do some fishing or to explore the surrounding woods.

Years later, I still find myself seeking quiet, out of the way spots, whether it be deep in the woods, along a riverbank, or at the sea coast.

I invite you to return with me to one of those special places, Cedar Island, which I first visited in 2003, and have later returned to several times.

 

Cedar Island Sign

 

Cedar Island is easy to find.  You take NC Hwy 12 East until the road dead ends at the Pamlico Sound.  As you approach Cedar Island, you will see vast areas covered with sawgrass and narrow waterways.

Read More Read More