W3BE'S BE Informed!
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BE Informed No. 1.4

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60 Meter Privileges

John B. Johnston W3BE

Q. Why is 60 meters channelized?

A. It is to facilitate the cessation of any interference to the primary users caused by our amateur stations. They do not have to tolerate signals from our amateur stations. Channelizing enables them to ascertain the call signs of our amateur station 60 m band users and request corrective reaction by our regulator whenever necessary.

   As secondary users, we must not cause harmful interference to, and must accept interference from, the primary users. Our 60-m band is not an amateur service band internationally. We have secondary status on five designated frequency channels in places where the FCC regulates. This allocation comes with distinctive operational and technical standards - traditionally absent from our rules - necessary to facilitate sharing with the primary users.

   Our regulator has determined that our 60-m secondary amateur service channels could be useful to our amateur service community for disaster communications at times when our 40, 75, and 80 m HF bands are not available due to ionospheric conditions. Amateur stations transmitting on the 60-m band must not cause harmful interference to, and must accept interference from, stations authorized by the United States (NTIA and FCC) and other nations in the fixed service and other nations in the mobile (except aeronautical mobile) service.

Q. What is NTIA?

A. NTIA is an agency of the United States Department of Commerce that serves as the President’s principal advisor on telecommunications and information policy issues. NTIA manages Federal use of the radio spectrum and coordinates such Federal usage with the FCC. See Section 2.1.

Q. Who are the primary users of 60 meters?

A. Our five channels within the 60-meter band are but small segments of the larger 5060-5450 kHz band, a Federal government/non-Federal shared band that is allocated to the fixed service on a primary basis and to the non- aeronautical mobile service on a secondary basis. This frequency band is primarily used by Federal government agencies for ship-to-shore and fixed point-to-point communications. 

   Nonfederal use of this frequency band includes state government licensees and licensees in the Industrial/Business Pool that operate standby and backup communication circuits for use during emergency and disaster situations, entities prospecting for petroleum and natural gas or distributing electric power, coast stations, and aeronautical fixed stations.

Q. What is the basis for sharing in the 60-meter band?

A. Amateur stations transmitting on the 60-m band must not cause harmful interference to, and must accept interference from, stations authorized by the NTIA, FCC, and other nations in the fixed service, and other nations in the mobile (except aeronautical mobile) service.

Q. What’s the difference between the band nomenclature wavelength and frequency?

A. In our service, wavelength band - rather than frequency band - is the expression of choice when referring to radio spectrum. Wavelength is calculated by dividing 300,000,000 meters per second - the velocity of radio waves - by the approximate frequency in Hz. Thusly, our channels near 5 MHz are considered to be within the 60-meter band.

   Gratefully, our regulator utilizes in Part 97 the more easily-remembered expression 60 meter wavelength band when referring to the 5330.5 – 5406.4 kHz frequency band. 

Q. What is the allowable power on the 60-m band?

A. Section 97.313(i) says that no 60 m station may transmit with an effective radiated power (ERP) exceeding 100 W PEP.

   For the purpose of computing ERP, the transmitter PEP is multiplied by the antenna gain relative to a half-wave dipole antenna. A half-wave dipole antenna is presumed to have a gain of 1 (0 dBd). Licensees using other antennas must maintain in their station records either the antenna manufacturer’s data on the antenna gain or calculations of the antenna gain.

Q. Which emission types are authorized?   

A. Section 97.303(h) authorizes upper sideband voice phone emission 2K80J3E; three other emission types were authorized: CW emission 150HA1A (on-off Morse code telegraphy); data emission 2K80J2D using the PACTOR‑III technique; and RTTY emission 60H0J2B using PSK31. Each of these four emission types may be transmitted on any of our five 60 m channels.

   Section 97.307(f)(14)(ii) says that when transmitting phone, RTTY, and data emissions, the suppressed carrier frequency may be set as specified in Section 97.303(h), i.e., 5330.5 kHz, 5346.5 kHz, 5357.0 kHz, 5371.5 kHz and 5403.5 kHz; and the control operator of a station transmitting data or RTTY emissions must exercise care to limit the length of transmission so as to avoid causing harmful interference to U.S. Government stations.

Q. How can four incompatible emission types possibly be transmitting on the same channel?

A. By observing usage priorities, time-sharing the channel, and cooperating with other stations that also have access to it.

Q. What about those unspecified RTTY and Data codes?

A. Section 97.309(b) says that an amateur station transmitting RTTY emission 60H0J2B or data emission 2K80J2D may transmit with an unspecified digital code, except to a station in a country with which the United States does not have an agreement permitting the code to be used. RTTY and data emissions using unspecified digital codes must not be transmitted for the purpose of obscuring the meaning of any communication. When deemed necessary by a District Director to assure compliance with the FCC Rules, a station must (1) cease the transmission using the unspecified digital code; (2) restrict transmissions of any digital code to the extent instructed; and (3) Maintain a record, convertible to the original information, of all digital communications transmitted.

Q. What about CW, Data, and RTTY?   

A. Section 97.305(c) and Section 97.307(f)(14) authorizes upper sideband voice phone emission 2K80J3E CW emission 150HA1A (on-off Morse code telegraphy); data emission 2K80J2D using the PACTOR‑III technique; and RTTY emission 60H0J2B using the PSK31 technique. Each of these four emission types may be transmitted on any of our five 60 m channels.

   Section 97.307(f)(14)(ii) says that when transmitting phone, RTTY, and data emissions, the suppressed carrier frequency may be set as specified in Section 97.303(h), i.e., 5330.5 kHz, 5346.5 kHz, 5357.0 kHz, 5371.5 kHz and 5403.5 kHz; and the control operator of a station transmitting data or RTTY emissions must exercise care to limit the length of transmission so as to avoid causing harmful interference to U.S. Government stations.

Q. Does this mean a digital mode signal can only be transmitted when it is at precisely the center frequency of a 60m channel? 

A. That is likely the regulatory intent, but for Data and RTTY emission transmissions, such may not always be exactly centered. Though Section 97.303(h) says that amateur operators shall ensure that their emissions (sic) do not occupy more than 2.8 kHz centered on the channel center frequency, Section 97.307(f)(14)(i) says that the use of a narrower necessary bandwidth is permitted. In which case, with the transmitter dial set to a carrier frequency listed in Section 97.303(h), the resultant signal will likely not center precisely in the channel.

Q. My reading is that a CW signal must be transmitted at the channel center frequency but digital modes do not. The R&O refers to a single-sideband transmitter in the USB mode having its carrier frequency set 1.5 kHz below the channel center frequency and audio being fed into the transmitter for emissions 2K80J2D and 60H0J2B. What the R&O does not say is which audio tones I must use except to ensure the transmitter emission is wholly within the designated 2.8 kHz bandwidth of the channel. It is for these reasons I conclude a digital mode emission of types 2K80J2D or 60H0J2B may occur within the channel bandwidth but not necessarily centered within the channel.

A. Yours seems to be a reasonable conclusion. The R&O acknowledges that amateur station digital and PSK31 transmissions are often from our single-sideband transmitters modulated with the essential tones being inserted into its microphone input jack. It acknowledges that emission types 2K80J2D and 60H0J2B can be generated compliantly in this manner. While it is possible for CW to also be similarly generated, the specified designator 150HA1A precludes such on 60 meters. That must be by on-off telegraphy keying of the carrier signal.

   The tones being introduced into a microphone jack for emission 2K80J2D or 60H0J2B most likely would be within audible voice range. Apparently, the resulting transmitted signal of such process is close enough to satisfy our secondary sharing obligation.

Q. What about those unspecified RTTY and Data codes?

A. Section 97.309(b) says that an amateur station transmitting RTTY emission 60H0J2B or data emission 2K80J2D may transmit with an unspecified digital code, except to a station in a country with which the United States does not have an agreement permitting the code to be used. RTTY and data emissions using unspecified digital codes must not be transmitted for the purpose of obscuring the meaning of any communication. When deemed necessary by a District Director to assure compliance with the FCC Rules, a station must (1) cease the transmission using the unspecified digital code; (2) restrict transmissions of any digital code to the extent instructed; and (3) Maintain a record, convertible to the original information, of all digital communications transmitted.

Q. Section 97.303(h), says amateur stations may transmit on five specific center frequencies in the 60-m band, control operators of stations transmitting phone, data, and RTTY emissions (emission designators 2K80J3E, 2K80J2D, and 60H0J2B, respectively) may set the carrier frequency 1.5 kHz below the center frequency. For CW emission designator 150HA1A, the carrier frequency is set to the center frequency. What is a carrier frequency? 

A. It is the number appearing on our transceiver frequency display is our most common understanding. It is the frequency with which our station’s transmitted signals are compared during the de-modulation process in a receiver. In retrospect, the term reference frequency would have been a more meaningful choice. It is an artifact from when modulation technology was emerging. It can designate the nominal frequency of a carrier wave; the center frequency of a frequency modulation (FM) signal; the frequency of the un-modulated electrical wave at the output of an amplitude modulated (AM), frequency modulated or phase modulated (PM) transmitter; or the output of a transmitter when the modulation is zero. 

Q. Is a carrier the radio signal that my station transmits?    

A. Sometimes it is. It is a major constituent, for example, of a conventional AM transmission. AM is a method for transmitting information by varying the strength of the transmitted signal in relation to the information being sent. The result is a carrier, along with sideband signals on frequencies slightly above (upper sideband) and below (lower sideband), being transmitted. Each sideband is a mirror image of the other and is equal in bandwidth to that of the modulating signal.

Q. What is single sideband?

A. SSB is a specialized type of AM transmission. One of the two sidebands, along with the carrier, is suppressed during transmission, leaving only the other – unsuppressed - sideband to be transmitted. The resulting signal occupies considerably less bandwidth than if it was an unsuppressed full carrier double sideband AM signal. To demodulate it for human hearing, the absent carrier is recreated within the receiver. The listener simply adjusts this internal reference frequency until the voice reception sounds normal.

   SSB is the predominant voice mode on our HF bands. On our 160, 75 and 40 meter bands, LSB is the convention. On 20 meters and above, it is USB. For 60 meters, Section 97.307(f)(14)(i) mandates USB. For the first half-century of amateur radio, a cacophony of our telephony reference carrier frequency signals was transmitted by our AM stations; for the past half-century – gratefully - they have been replicated more calmly within our SSB receivers.

Q. Why is 60 meters limited to USB?

A. Our 60-m allocation is unique. It is not an amateur service band internationally. We are but a semi-tolerated secondary user in places where the FCC regulates. Our arrangement package, therefore, comes burdened with extensive technical and operational conditions - traditionally absent from our rules - ostensibly to decrease the interference potential to the primary user stations.     

   Obviously, the primary users’ spectrum management practice is based upon a series of 2.80 kHz wide channels, each of which is identified by the frequency at its exact center. Our tradition, on the other hand, has been to identify by their carrier frequency our spontaneously self-selected channels. On-off keyed CW is the only one of the four authorized modes where the primary user’s center frequency and our carrier frequency coincide. 

Q. What is the meaning of the term emission designator 2K80J3E?

A. It is a narrow SSB-only voice transmission. Firstly, Section 2.201(g) says that whenever the full designation of a signal is necessary – and it is in the instance of 60 meter sharing – the symbol shall be preceded by the necessary bandwidth of the emission as indicated in Section 2.202(b)(1): The necessary bandwidth shall be expressed by three numerals and one letter. The letter occupies the position of the decimal point and represents the unit of bandwidth. In our case, therefore, it is 2.80 kHz.

   Secondly, the symbol J indicates a single sideband suppressed carrier emission in which the main carrier is amplitude-modulated. The symbol 3 indicates a single channel containing analogue information. The symbol E indicates telephony. Read Section 2.201.

   Section 97.307(f)(14)(i) further restricts us to Section 97.3(c)(5) phone USB.

Q. What are the meanings of the other three emission designators?

A. CW emission designator 150HA1A means (A) double sideband emission in which the main carrier is amplitude-modulated; (1) a single channel containing quantized or digital information without the use of a modulating sub-carrier, excluding time-division multiplex; (A) telegraphy for aural reception. The necessary bandwidth is 150 Hz. Section 97.307(f)(14)(i) further restricts us to Morse telegraphy by means of on-off keying. Section 97.3(c)(1) even further limits us to the international Morse code.

   Data emission designator 2K80J2D means (J) single sideband suppressed carrier emission in which the main carrier is amplitude-modulated; (2) a single channel containing quantized or digital information with the use of a modulating sub-carrier, excluding time-division multiplex; (D)  data transmission, telemetry, telecommand. Section 97.307(f)(14)(i) further restricts us to USB (for example, PACTOR-III). 

   RTTY emission designator 60H0J2B means (J) single sideband suppressed carrier emission in which the main carrier is amplitude-modulated; (2) a single channel containing quantized or digital information with the use of a modulating sub-carrier, excluding time-division multiplex; (B) telegraphy for automatic reception. The necessary bandwidth is 60.0 Hz. Section 97.307(f)(14)(i) further restricts us to USB (for example, PSK31).     

   A sound card is a very useful feature of most of our personal computers. It can convert our analogue audio into its digital counterpart for high speed processing and can convert its digital output into analogue audio compatible with our transceivers. 

   Three mini-phone jacks usually provide for simple pc-to-transceiver interconnection. The audio output jack is labeled with an earphone icon. The other two are for input, one of which is labeled with a microphone icon; the other is for higher voltage levels. Use the latter when you feed the audio from the earphone jack on your transceiver. Even then, a resistance divider may be required to prevent overload.

Q. Ham RTTY is wider in bandwidth than 60 Hz. We use 170 Hz shift FSK, so the bandwidth is at least that wide.

A. Section 97.307(f)(14(i), however, restricts 60 meter RTTY to 60 Hz necessary bandwidth. In effect, that precludes 170 Hz shift FSK RTTY.

Q. What is the meaning of necessary bandwidth?

A. Section 2.202(b) defines it as - for a given class of emission - the minimum value of the occupied bandwidth sufficient to ensure the transmission of information at the rate and with the quality required for the system employed, under specified conditions. Emissions useful for the good functioning of the receiving equipment as, for example, the emission corresponding to the carrier of reduced carrier systems, shall be included in the necessary bandwidth. 

Q. What, then, is occupied bandwidth?

A. Section 2.202(a) defines it as the frequency bandwidth such that, below its lower and above its upper frequency limits, the mean powers radiated are each equal to 0.5 percent of the total mean power radiated by a given emission. In some cases, for example multichannel frequency-division systems, the percentage of 0.5 percent may lead to certain difficulties in the practical application of the definitions of occupied and necessary bandwidth; in such cases a different percentage may prove useful.

Q. What is PSK31?

A. Phase Shift Keying 31 Baud is a RTTY modulation mode providing real-time keyboard-to-keyboard texting developed by G3PLX. It works well at low power and does not require a large antenna. Several clever pc software programs – some free – are available for downloading.

   With your SSB transceiver connected to the sound card of your pc, you keystroke your message for transmission. The software then produces an audio tone by switching the polarity of the signal used to key your pc's sound card; binary information is transmitted by either imparting a 180-degree polarity shift (binary zero) or no polarity shift (binary one) in each 32ms symbol interval.

Q. What is PACTOR-III?

A. It is a data modulation mode combining the bandwidth efficiency of packet radio with the error-correction and automatic repeat request of AMTOR.

Q. Are we restricted to PACTOR-III? Can’t we use PACTOR-I or -II? PACTOR-III is not generated by insertion of pc generated audio into a SSB transmitter; it requires an expensive proprietary modem. There are lower-cost alternatives. Winmor is one such work-alike. It is a soundcard mode which may qualify as emission 2K80J2D. Its widest bandwidth is 1600 Hz. Another is MT63. While it can be used keyboard-to-keyboard, it isn't "direct printing" because it encodes blocks of characters or data at a time and adds FEC. Its widest bandwidth is 2000 Hz, but it is most often used in its 1000 Hz bandwidth setting.

A. The 60 M band emission requirements codified in Section 97.307(f)(14)(i) says, for the Data line item: emission designator 2K80J2D restricted to USB (for example, PACTOR-III.) The emission designator is the operative rule; PACTOR-III is but an example. Whether some other data modulation mode can be transmitted compliantly on 60 meters depends, therefore, upon whether it is consistent with emission designator 2K80J2D.        

Q. Can CW be generated by my PC?

A. Yes it can, but on 60 m the transmitter must be on-off keyed. It must, moreover, be set to the channel center frequency. Read Section 97.303(h)

Q. A bandwidth of 150 Hz will accommodate 37.5 WPM. Does that mean we can’t send faster than that on 60 meters?

A. Possibly, as the occupied bandwidth increases with telegraphy speed. So, if the resulting mean powers radiated exceed 99% of the authorized 150 Hz necessary bandwidth, it is disallowed.  

Q. Does Data exclude what we call RTTY?

A. Yes. In Part 97, the term Data is defined as telemetry, telecommand and computer communications emissions having certain designators. Read Section 97.3(c)(2). The term RTTY is defined as narrow-band direct-printing telegraphy emissions having certain designators. Read Section 97.3(c)(7)

Q. There is no USB and LSB for PSK. It is not FSK and it is not SSB, even though we generate it with audio fed into our SSB transmitters. It can be copied with the receiver set to either USB or LSB. It can be generated with your transmitter set to USB or LSB.

A. USB is specified, evidentially, as the means to assuring that – with the transmitter set to a channel carrier frequency authorized in Section 97.303(h) - the transmitted signal will more or less be centered within the channel. Note in the rule where the specified carrier frequency is always 1.5 kHz lower than the specified center frequency.     

Q. The table in Section 97.303(h) seems predicated upon the notion that Data and RTTY can be transmitted as USB, probably because we sometimes generate them that way by putting an audio signal into a SSB transmitter. But the result is FSK. 

A. The 60 m rules take some liberties in attempting to bridge the gap between our open architecture customs and the wonderland of regulatory how-to-ism.

Q. We can’t tune up on 60 meters because A0 transmissions are not allowed.

A. Actually Section 97.305(b) authorizes a station to transmit a test emission on any frequency authorized to the control operator for brief periods for experimental purposes. Section 97.3(c)(9) defines test as emissions containing no information having the designators with N as the third symbol.

   Keep over-the-air tune-ups to a minimum and never on a channel where it would disrupt other stations. Tune the transmitter into a non-radiating dummy antenna. Adjust any antenna tuner using a very low power SWR analyzer or similar accessory.

Q. As an Amateur Extra Class operator, what are my regulatory obligations under Section 97.303(h)(1) where it says that amateur operators shall ensure that their emissions (sic) do not occupy more than 2.8 kHz centered at each of these frequencies? It reads as if every amateur operator is being held accountable even where we have no personal involvement in all such proscribed transmissions caused by someone else.  

A. The opening sentences of that rule section authorizes amateur stations to transmit in the 60-m band on any of five channel center frequencies. That follow-on sentence means, apparently, that no amateur station may transmit any such a signal that would occupy more than 2.8 kHz centered on any of these channels. 

   Ordinarily, should such occur, the licensee of the station making the prohibited transmission is accountable because it is the station licensee who is responsible for the proper operation of the station in accordance with the FCC rules. When the control operator is a different amateur operator than the station licensee, both persons are equally responsible for proper operation of the station. Section 97.103 says that the station licensee is also the presumptive control operator, unless documentation to the contrary is in the station records.

Q. But Section 97.303(h)(1) also says:  In order to meet this requirement, control operators of stations transmitting phone, data, and RTTY emissions may set the carrier frequency 1.5 kHz below the center frequency as specified in a table. Doesn’t this shift the blame from the station licensee to the control operator?

A. There is yet another switcheroo. That how-to rule seems to be predicated upon our regulators’ unfounded expectation that the designated Section 97.105 control operator’s action will always result in the station apparatus responding as intended. It could set the stage for some dual finger-pointing. For example, here is one conceptual scenario:

   While performing their maintenance monitoring, our Amateur Auxiliary volunteers intercept the USB, PACTOR‑III or PSK31 signals of an amateur station transmitting on one of the 60 meter channels. They note that the signals are more than 1.5 kHz above the center frequency listed in Section 97.303(h)(1).

   As the situation unfolds, the Section 97.103 station licensee produces documentation that the designated station control operator at the time was another amateur operator. Read Section 97.103(b). As such, the station licensee claims, the designated control operator is solely accountable, under Section 97.303(h)(1), for improperly setting the carrier frequency. 

   The designated control operator, however, counters with the claim that the carrier was indeed set to the exact carrier frequency as indicated on the station apparatus indicator. So, the apparatus must be defective. The control operator counter-asserts full compliance with the frequency-setting how-to option in Section 97.303(h)(1) and lays the entire blame on the station licensee.

Q. But Section 97.103(a) says the station licensee is responsible for the proper operation of the station in accordance with the FCC Rules. When the control operator is a different amateur operator than the station licensee, both persons are equally responsible for proper operation of the station.

A. Exactly. The carrier-setting how-to option authorized to the Section 97.105 control operator, however, appears to upset the notion of co-responsibility codified in Section 97.103(a). All of us will take the blame for the misdeeds of the few. 

Q. Section 97.401 says that a station in, or within 92.6 km of, Alaska may transmit emissions J3E and R3E on the channel at 5.1675 MHz (assigned frequency 5.1689 MHz) for emergency communications. Isn’t that another 60-meter channel?

A. Yes indeed. It is moreover, the Section 97.401 EmComm disaster channel. A station in the State of Alaska or within 50 nautical miles thereof may transmit communications on that 60-m channel for tests and training drills necessary to ensure the establishment, operation, and maintenance of emergency communication systems. The channel must be shared with stations licensed in the Alaska-Private Fixed Service. The transmitter power must not exceed 150 W PEP.

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March 5, 2016

Supersedes all prior editions