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WWARA Band Plan Update

posted Jun 12, 2012, 10:12 PM by Brian Lawler

(Posted to WWARA membership reflector)

Changes on 2-meters and 70-centimeters in Western Washington

At their regular quarterly general meeting, the Western Washington Amateur Relay Association (WWARA), the recognized repeater coordination body for this region, in response to a series of motions from the floor, amended their Policies to provide for limited growth of Narrow-Band/Digital (NBD) systems on the 2-meter and 70-centimeter bands. While the 70-centimeter changes were part of an on-going program of experimentation and evaluation, the 2-meter changes may be more controversial.

WWARA Policy was summarized in the meeting by WWARA Chairman Frank Wolfe, NM7R, as requiring any changes to strictly conform with CFR Title 47, Part 97 FCC regulations, protect the presently coordinated analog FM repeaters and their users, and cause as little impact to non-repeater users as possible. The motion from the floor was to allow coordination of up to eight new narrow-band repeater pairs, spaced 12.5 kHz, using 1 MHz offsets, with outputs in the 146.400 to 146.500 MHz segment, paired with inputs in the 147.400 to 147.500 MHz segment. These will be for narrow-bandwidth repeaters, including D-Star, only.

Several objections were raised during the discussion. One was that there were several “talking clock” repeaters that, although operational, have no users. It was pointed out that WWARA has no authority to make a “value” determination on a repeater operation. Another comment was that many repeaters seem unused most of the time, but become quite busy during emergencies. It was stated that Part 97.1(d) would allow a repeater for the sole purpose of training one or more individuals in its construction and maintenance, separate from any ‘use’ issue.

An objection based on “invading” the simplex area was looked at in depth. There are either 3 or 5 channels in each of these segments, depending upon using 30 kHz or 20 kHz steps. Simplex operations routinely use repeater output frequencies, and in some cases, input frequencies, for tactical operations. They also use channels in parts of the band not authorized for repeaters (144.300 to 144.500 and portions of 145.500-146.000 MHz). Since a simplex operator may change frequency at will, and with few crystal-controlled radios still in operation, can use virtually any unused frequency, this “invasion” was judged to be minimal. It was noted that the National Simplex calling frequency, 146.520, and the traditional simplex channels above it, along with their 147-MHz counterparts, remain available.

In addition to these 8 pairs, suitable for 12.5 kHz or 6.25 kHz bandwidth repeaters, two additional channels were authorized by a separate motion. One is 146.005 + (output) paired with 146.605 (input), and the other is 147.995 – (output), paired with 147.395 (input). These two channels are suitable only for 6.25 kHz bandwidth “ultra-narrow” signals. Although only ten total channel pairs, this may help relieve the “log jam” that has been building, particularly on 2-meters, for D-Star (and related NBD) repeaters looking for spectrum in which to operate. Many of these systems are EmComm sponsored or oriented.

The 70-cm band motion was to change the wording of the Band Plan to allow NBD repeaters to be coordinated on other than 25 kHz channel spacing. Specifically, it authorized 12.5 kHz spacing, relatively easy on this band as it is half the normal step. There are a few NBD repeaters presently “testing” on “splinters” between existing conventional repeaters. With moderate geographic spacing, this has been shown to work well. The Band Plan amendment will allow these repeaters to be coordinated where they have been operating.

An additional amendment to the 70-cm Band Plan recommends the Band Chair begin assigning new NBD repeaters to a block at the bottom of the band, previously reserved for NBD experimentation. Although these new systems could in theory look anywhere in the band, it is thought that concentrating them at one end, on 12.5 kHz steps, will minimize interference issues. This was in the form of a recommendation, not a requirement.

Any questions regarding this action may be directed to the Chairman at “chair@WWARA.org”. Any Amateur wishing to apply for a repeater coordination in Western Washington is advised to contact the Secretary or appropriate Band Committee Chair. Contact information is available on the website: “https://www.wwara.org”.

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