Additional Spectrum in EI – Clarification from IRTS

Frequency Table

Frequency Table

The very welcome announcement of the massive allocation by ComReg of low-band VHF spectrum to the Amateur Service raised some questions about the wording in the document.

Seán Nolan EI7CD, IRTS/ComReg Liaison, has kindly provided this clarification:

The use of AMSAT in ComReg Document 09/45 R4 is regrettable and is a legacy issue carried forward from earlier versions of the Amateur Station Licence Guidelines. Most of ComReg’s documents are commercially sensitive and no draft documents (other than consultations) are published. Although documents relating to amateur radio are not commercially sensitive we do fall under the non-publishing of draft documents embargo.

The use of AMSAT somewhat randomly confuses the actual situation regarding satellite operation. The frequencies in Annex 1 of the Guidelines are available to all CEPT Class 1 and Class 2 licensees. So far as satellite operation is concerned amateurs here can use the satellite segments mentioned (435-438 MHz; 1260-1270 MHz: 5650-5670 MHz –uplink and 5830-5850 MHz –downlink). The “All modes” in the Modes column in Annex 1 covers the relevant operating mode for the satellite concerned. Similarly 10450-10500 MHz can be used for satellite communications.

In the Modes column of Annex 1, all modes are indicated. In many cases “including digimodes” is stated but of course ‘all modes’ includes digimodes. In the definitions in Annex 1 digimodes are defined as “Any digital mode such as —–“. So DSTAR, DMR etc would be included.

We will of course work with ComReg to secure additional spectrum and facilities. The present initiative by ComReg is as a result of such work by IRTS. In this context we would hope in the future to get 2400-2450 MHz among the bands on general release.

Finally some people are wondering why we didn’t get 52-54 MHz. We have of course been seeking this. However, as you know the question of granting 52-54 MHz to Region 1 of the ITU to align with ITU Regions 2 and 3 is the subject of Agenda Item 1.1 of WRC-19. ComReg will be involved in in seeking to establish a CEPT Common Position and so will not move on it before WRC-19. If the IARU WRC-19 initiative is not successful we will seek a national allocation at 50-54 MHz under Article 4.4 of the ITU Radio Regulations.

I realise that the somewhat random use of “AMSAT” and the use of “All Modes” in some places and “All modes including digimodes” in others can lead to confusion. I hope my attempt to ‘clarify’ helps.

Best regards,

Seán Nolan EI7CD
IRTS/ComReg Liaison

The new ComReg amateur radio document can be downloaded from
http://comreg.ie/publication-download/amateur-station-license-guidelines

Amateur radio regulatory changes in Eire
https://amsat-uk.org/2018/05/01/amateur-radio-regulatory-changes-in-eire/

Ada Lace book features amateur radio and space communications

Emily Calandrelli KD8PKR with her new Ada Lace book

Emily Calandrelli KD8PKR with her new Ada Lace book

Ada Lace, Take Me to Your Leader is a new book written for young people by Emily Calandrelli KD8PKR that features amateur radio and space communications.

Ada is an 8-year-old with a knack for science, mathematics, and solving mysteries with technology. Her latest project is to fix up a ham radio, something that she could use to contact people on this planet and beyond.

The book is available on Amazon at http://amzn.to/2DbKt9L

Emily Calandrelli KD8PKR
https://twitter.com/TheSpaceGal
https://twitter.com/ada_lace

What is Amateur Radio? http://www.essexham.co.uk/what-is-amateur-radio

Find a UK amateur radio training course near you https://thersgb.org/services/coursefinder/

Free online amateur radio Foundation course https://www.essexham.co.uk/train/foundation-online/

Unicorn-2a PocketQube Satellite

Unicorn-2a in Space - image credit Alba Orbital

Unicorn-2a in Space – image credit Alba Orbital

Glasgow-based Alba Orbital plan to launch a 3p PocketQube Unicorn-2a built by several radio amateurs including Constantin Constantinides MM6XOM, Sajimon Chacko 2M0DSY and Alejandro González Garrido EA7KDU. A 3rd quarter 2018 launch is planned on a Vector Launch Inc. rocket from Kodiak, Alaska into a 350 x 350 km 98 degree orbit. The mission will last about 45 days and Delfi-PQ is expected to be a fellow passenger on the launch.

Unicorn-2a PocketQube Structure

Unicorn-2a PocketQube structure

The mission of Unicorn-2a is primarily a technological demonstration of an Optical payload with a 16m GSD (Ground Sample Distance).

When the satellite is in orbit it is planned to run challenges with the amateur radio community such as:
– 1st download of an image from the satellite
– 1st reception of text based/extended beacon
– 1st reception of the satellite in the southern hemisphere

An open source GUI for the satellite will be available to all from Alba Orbital’s web site. This GUI allows for monitoring the health status of the satellite once the beacon has been received.

Alba Orbital are collaborating with the University of Aachen and their amateur radio group DL0FHA to trial Unicorn-2a operations and act as a backup. This helps students learn about communicating with a real mission.

The team are proposing a UHF downlink using 9k6 bps GFSK and at 2.4 GHz using 200 kbps GMSK and LoRa at 38 kbps.

Watch the talk on the Unicorn-2a structure by Andrew Dunn given at PocketQube Workshop in Delft

Unicorn-2 http://www.albaorbital.com/unicorn2/

Unicorn-2 on IARU satellite frequency coordination site http://www.amsat.org.uk/iaru/

Vector to launch Unicorn-2a and Delfi-PQ PocketQube satellites on first orbital attempt
https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/vector-to-conduct-dedicated-launch-of-alba-orbital-pocketqube-satellites-on-first-orbital-attempt-300610673.html

Amateur radio regulatory changes in Eire

ComReg LogoComReg‘s massive allocation of low-band VHF spectrum to radio amateurs in Eire is most welcome and sets an example to other regulators but other aspects of the regulations raise questions especially regarding Amateur-Satellite Service allocations.

Unusually for an official document ComReg seem to use “AMSAT” as an abbreviation for the ITU Amateur-Satellite Service, however, they fail to define exactly what they intend it to means. AMSAT is a registered trademark of a USA Corporation, see https://www.amsat.org/notification-of-trademark-copyright-and-other-proprietary-information/

Frequency Table

Frequency Table

The low-band VHF Amateur Service allocations are now:
30.0-49.0 MHz 50 watts
50.0-52.0 MHz 100 watts
54.0-69.9 MHz 50 watts
69.9-70.5 MHz 50 watts

The national amateur radio society, IRTS, are to be congratulated on achieving amateur access to so much spectrum.

The ComReg document as written appears to mean amateur satellite operation is not permitted in these ITU Amateur-Satellite Service allocations:
435-438 MHz
1260-1270 MHz
5650-5670 MHz
5830-5850 MHz

Oddly satellite operation is permitted in 430-432 MHz but there are no amateur satellites there!

Transmitting to amateur satellites operating in 2400-2450 MHz is only allowed with a Special Permit, it’s not included as standard in the licence. Even with the Permit amateurs will be restricted to a transmitter output of just 25 watts.

ComReg limit which modes that can be used in each band by listing three-character ITU Emission Designators. For example X7F is among those permitted for the 54.0-69.9 MHz band and means Digital Amateur TV (e.g. DVB-S) can be used. Unfortunately it appears to be the only band where X7F is permitted, an unnecessary restriction.

The Emission Designators for digital voice modes such as D-STAR and DMR don’t appear to be listed anywhere suggesting they cannot be used.

In 2006 the UK regulator Ofcom adopted a Technology Neutral approach to amateur radio, they scrapped listing of specific Emission Designators and allowed all modes to be used. It is unfortunate ComReg hasn’t taken this opportunity to do the same.

The new ComReg amateur radio document can be downloaded from
http://comreg.ie/publication-download/amateur-station-license-guidelines

King’s High School ARISS contact on BBC TV

Nicola Beckford from BBC TV interviewing Eleanor Griffin before the ARISS contact - image credit KHS

Nicola Beckford from BBC TV interviewing Eleanor Griffin before the ARISS contact – image credit KHS

On April 19 student Eleanor Griffin led the live question and answer session between King’s High School and Warwick Preparatory School (GB4KHS) and astronaut Ricky Arnold KE5DAU on the International Space Station (NA1SS).

Nicola Beckford reporting for BBC Midlands TV on Kings High School ARISS contact - image credit KHS

Nicola Beckford reporting for BBC Midlands TV on Kings High School ARISS contact – image credit KHS

King’s High School strongly encourage their girls to develop their interests both inside and outside the classroom. This culture of empowerment led one of their girls, Eleanor Griffin, to apply to ARISS Europe (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) for a highly prestigious link-up to the International Space Station.

When Eleanor Griffin was selected to hold a space conversation with an astronaut, she was inspired to set up the Warwick Mars Project, for students across the Warwick Independent Schools Foundation, to further interest in Space Science. Eleanor says: “The moon landings belong to the generation of our grandparents, and the International Space Station to our parents. What will happen in our generation? Will Mankind travel to another planet?”

After the ISS contact when asked what this incredible experience had taught her Eleanor replied “Just do it! No one is going to stop you, if you just go and pursue your dreams, you really can do anything.”

Watch the BBC TV news item broadcast on Midlands Today @bbcmtd. Fast forward to 18:45 into the recording at
https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b09z9tw6/midlands-today-evening-news-19042018

In this video the students present their work and activities that lead up the contact, followed at 12:11 by a presentation by ARISS Operations UK team lead Ciaran Morgan M0XTD with the ISS contact commencing at 31:32 into the video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpVc1ikj4pE

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS)
http://www.ariss.org/apply-to-host-an-ariss-contact.html
https://twitter.com/ARISS_status

King’s High School Warwick https://twitter.com/KHSWarwick

Radio hams receive Slow Scan TV from Space

ISS SSTV 9-9 Edmund Spicer M0MNG 2018-04-11-1730z

ISS SSTV received by Edmund Spicer M0MNG

Radio amateurs around the world are receiving Slow Scan Television images on 145.800 MHz FM from the International Space Station.

The transmissions by ARISS Russia are in celebration of Cosmonautics Day and should continue until 1820 GMT on Saturday, April 14.

Pete M0PSX of Essex Ham reports receiving good pictures using a colinear antenna.

Edmund Spicer M0MNG, a regular guest on the bi-weekly ICQ Amateur Radio Podcast, received an image at 1730 GMT on Wednesday, April 11 using a 5 element ZL Special Yagi and a FT-991. He said it was probably the best quality image he’s ever received from the ISS.

Others have reported receiving images using just a $35 Baofeng UV-5R VHF/UHF FM handheld radio and 1/4 wave antenna.

Read the Essex Ham report which includes times to receive the SSTV signal over Essex
https://www.essexham.co.uk/news/iss-sstv-images-11-april-2018.html

Further information on the Russian ISS SSTV event to celebrate Cosmonautics Day
https://amsat-uk.org/2018/04/08/russian-iss-sstv-cosmonautics-day/

The SSTV can be displayed on a Windows PC using the MMSSTV App, you can even hold an iPhone or iPad next to the radio with the appropriate iOS SSTV App. Links to Apps and other information at
https://amsat-uk.org/beginners/iss-sstv/

If you receive a full or partial picture from the Space Station your Local Newspaper may like to know http://www.southgatearc.org/news/2016/july/now-is-a-great-time-to-get-ham-radio-publicity.htm

The RSGB produce a handy Media Guide and Template press release for anyone to download and adapt, see http://rsgb.org/main/clubs/media-guide-for-affiliated-societies/

An example of the publicity you can get for the hobby by telling your Local Newspaper
https://amsat-uk.org/2015/04/15/iss-sstv-in-the-press/