November 9 2011, the day the TV went off

The EAS is a national public warning system that requires broadcasters, cable television systems, wireless cable systems, satellite digital audio radio service (SDARS) providers, and direct broadcast satellite (DBS) providers to provide the communications capability to the President to address the American public during a national emergency. The system also may be used by state and local authorities to deliver important emergency information, such as AMBER alerts and weather information targeted to specific areas.

The first Nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System will be carried out on November 9, 2011

BARC and Jeffco ARES in Alabama before and after the tornados

Pleasant Grove Alabama Tornado 2011-Devastation for milesI was impressed by the immense turnout on the BARC(146.88 tone88.5) repeater in Birmingham Alabama as the storms approached. Storm spotters reporting in, various other ham radio operators reporting conditions. The unity and control of the net was obvious. I listen more than I talk and enjoyed being a fly on the wall. This disaster is one that I personally will never forget for many reasons.

The main reason I will not forget this disaster is because of the voices on the radio that I heard throughout the disaster helping people they may never meet or see. Communicating across great distances where other forms of communication failed us. I especially noted N4HUB and WX4RON, two well trained and caring people that have great experience in the radio community. Though no one would wish this kind of devastation on anyone the two individuals were ready for the challenge of the tornados and the chaos that ensued. These two coordinated a large network of volunteer radio operators across the state in the recovery and support operations. There hard work justifies this hobby for all of us. They exemplify what all of us should do with this great hobby. All of us need to be prepared for a disaster and the preparedness of BARC, Jeffco ARES, Many unnamed ham radio operators not only saved life’s but helped many agencies including the EMA and the Red Cross. Well done N4HUB and WX4RON! Your leadership during this disaster was unparalleled. I am sure I am not the only one to say this but, Thank you for everything you guys do!

HR 607 – House bill 607 -Limit amateur radio service ability to respond to emergencies

This is a full reprint of the HR 607. Introduced by Mr. KING of New York , Mr. THOMPSON of Mississippi, Mr. ROGERS of Alabama, Ms. CLARKE of New York, Mrs. MILLER of Michigan, Mr. LONG, and Mr. GRIMM). This bill is another attempt to limit the public’s ability to communicate in the event of an emergency and should be stopped.
HR 607 IH

1st Session

H. R. 607
To enhance public safety by making more spectrum available to public safety agencies, to facilitate the development of a wireless public safety broadband network, to provide standards for the spectrum needs of public safety agencies, and for other purposes.

February 10, 2011
Mr. KING of New York (for himself, Mr. THOMPSON of Mississippi, Mr. ROGERS of Alabama, Ms. CLARKE of New York, Mrs. MILLER of Michigan, Mr. LONG, and Mr. GRIMM) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce
To enhance public safety by making more spectrum available to public safety agencies, to facilitate the development of a wireless public safety broadband network, to provide standards for the spectrum needs of public safety agencies, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
(a) Short Title- This Act may be cited as the `Broadband for First Responders Act of 2011′.
(b) Table of Contents- The table of contents for this Act is as follows:
Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

Sec. 101. Findings.
Sec. 102. Allocation and assignment of public safety licenses.
Sec. 103. Standards.
Sec. 104. Rule of construction.

Birmingham airport radio frequencies-BHM-Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International airport

This information is so oddly useless that when I needed it, I could not find it, so now I have posted it for me (and you) to have.   I have flown in and out of this airport many times and find its small and outdated facilities have a ‘hometown’ feel. 

Birmingham, Alabama

BHM-Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International airport
Birmingham AL
  Time Zone: CT 
Lat: N 3333.8     Long: W 08645.1     Elev: 650     Var: +03  Longest Runway: 12002
Clr Del: 125.67       Dept. ATIS: 119.4     Arr. ATIS: 119.4   Ground: 121.7     Tower: 118.25/119.9


BHM-Birmingham airport runways in AlabamaBirmingham Airport Communications & Frequencies
ATIS Frequencies: Hours(local) of Operation: CONTINUOUS
119.4 270.1
Birmingham Tower Frequencies: Hours(local) of operation: CONTINUOUS
118.25 119.9 317.725
Birmingham Ground Frequencies:
121.7 348.6
Birmingham Clearance Delivery Frequencies:
125.675 305.2
Birmingham Emergency Frequencies:
121.5 243.0

Birmingham Unicom Frequency: 122.950

Birmingham Primary Approach Frequencies: Hours(local) of operation: CONTINUOUS
123.8(050-230) 127.675(231-049) 256.8(050-230) 338.2(231-049)
Birmingham Primary Departure Frequencies: Hours(local) of operation: CONTINUOUS
123.8(050-230) 127.675(231-049) 256.8(050-230) 338.2(231-049)

Class C Frequencies:
123.8(050-230) 127.675(231-049) 256.8(050-230) 338.2(231-049)

Ham radio help requested for KySat-1 launch

KYSAT1-kysat1 cube satAmateur Radio satellite KySat-1, due to be launched February 23!!!

As you may know, KySat-1 along with CubeSats from Montana State University and University of Colorado, will be launched into orbit from Vandenburg AFB on February 23 at 0809 UTC. As with all satellite missions, for us, verifying operation and establishing communication early is critical to mission success.

I would also like to invite amateur radio operators to help them establish contact with KySat-1. Information about the beacons, the mission, and the status of the mission can be found at the following link:

KySat-1 is the first satellite developed by Kentucky and its outreach capabilities will inspire K-12 students to purse Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).

KySat-1 Beacon 436.790 MHz
FM modulated pseudo-CW beacon every five minutes.
The frequency of the audio signal is 400 Hz @ 32 wpm
FM modulated AX.25 encoded digital beacon every 2.5 minutes.

It carries a digital camera and has a high bandwidth S-band downlink.

KySat-1 on Twitter:

KySat-1 on the IARU Satellite Frequency Coordination pages can be found here

Ham Radio Not a Viable Option for Egypt

Despite the best efforts of Internet activists who are trying to help Egyptians communicate with the outside world, ham radio isn’t a viable option in this situation, experts said.

The Egyptian government has ordered the shutdown of all ISPs (Internet service providers) as well as some cell phone services. The move appears aimed at disrupting protestors, who have been demonstrating across the country since last week. They are calling for the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

In order to fill the communications gap, supporters around the world have set up free dial-up phone lines and are trying to get the word out to Egyptians that they are monitoring certain ham radio bands for their transmissions.

However, despite reports of ham radios being used to send Morse code, there have been no confirmed transmissions out of Egypt, said Allen Pitts, a spokesman for the National Association for Amateur Radio. “I haven’t heard of any transmissions, period,” he said.

The group We Rebuild has set up an IRC for ham radio enthusiasts around the world listening for transmissions on the designated band. They have reported hearing what may be Morse code and possibly some audio messages.

Hearing little, the supporters sometimes voice their frustration. One, called “+HAMguy,” joked: “Who needs a social life when you can listen to faint beeps all day long while talking to complete and utter strangers.”

There is a long history of using ham radio in emergency situations, but it is not ideal for the current situation in Egypt, Pitts said. “Ham radio does do wonderfully in situations like this … but in this particular case, there’s nobody transmitting,” he said.

That may be partly because there are few ham users in Egypt to begin with. “Most people cannot afford it or do not have the political connections needed to get a license there. Those with licenses are apparently, wisely, keeping low,” he said. They may be concerned about who is listening and whether there will be consequences for what they say.

Although there has been little to no traffic coming out of Egypt, ham radio enthusiasts have been having a lively discussion about whether the technology should be used in a situation of political upheaval.

“Amateur Radio should not be used for this political purpose — Especially to subvert the will of any government. It’s not its purpose. This is not emergency communications,” a person with the call sign KB3X wrote in a forum for ham radio users.

But others said the situation in Egypt is exactly the type of emergency where ham radio can be helpful, and that the politics behind it is irrelevant.

Read the rest of this story at

LightSquared gets satellite waiver…Really?

The marginally insane plan for a US-spanning mobile network using frequencies reserved for satellite is looking more likely, thanks to an FCC decision that handsets won’t have to be satellite-capable.

Earlier this month the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) requested clarification in the rules, which demand that equipment supplied by LightSquared is satellite-capable but are less clear if the same obligation applies to its resellers. Now the FCC has decreed that it doesn’t, making LightSquared a satellite operator in name only despite the fact that it has (and is required to have) an operational satellite.

That’s important, because if LightSquared is going to make back the $7bn it plans to spend building the national network it’s going to have to find new customers for its connectivity. These will come in the shape of companies supplying set-top boxes, washing machines, games consoles and the like, which might not be happy sporting a satellite dish on top.

But the radio frequencies LightSquared is using are supposed to be reserved for satellite communications, which is how the company bought them on the cheap. Competitors were hoping that requiring every device connected to the LightSquared network to be satellite capable would drive up the price, to their advantage, but it seems that won’t be happening.

Even if the devices had been satellite-capable, LightSquared wasn’t planning on carrying more than 0.0005 per cent of the traffic via its bird, so arguments that removing the requirement will lead to increased interference are facetious at best, though that didn’t stop the NTIA making them.

LightSquared will have to undertake some work to ensure that it’s not going to interfere with the low-power GPS signals, but that’s nothing compared to the problems it faces raising the $7bn it needs to build network on the ground. It’s also unlikely the other operators are going to sit back and let this lie when they’ve spent so much money on radio spectrum on the basis that it isn’t encumbered by any satellite requirement.

It’s possible to imagine a similar scenario in Europe, but the task would be complicated by the lack of cross-Europe regulatory body – a satellite operator would need to get a similar waiver for every country, and the UK’s regulator Ofcom has made it clear it won’t be allowing this kind of behaviour.

Read the rest of this great story here

Italian amateur radio repeaters impact satellite operations by disregarding the IARU bandplan

Italian amateur radio repeaters disregard IARU bandplan

In Italy, FM and D-Star repeaters are being licensed in the 2m IARU Amateur Satellite segment 145.8-146.0MHz causing considerable interference to Amateur Radio Satellites and the International Space Station.

It would appear that the Italian regulator permits repeaters anywhere within 2m on a provisional basis for 60 days. Authorisation may become permanent if no complaints are received. It would appear it is up to Amateurs worldwide to make sure the Italian regulator is made aware of any problems.

Repeaters in 145.8-146.0MHz cause interference to both satellite transponders and to the important satellite control uplinks.

Communications via Amateur Radio satellites are possible using as little as 300mW to a quarter wave whip as demonstrated by EB4DKA on SO-50 – uplink frequency 145.850MHz, see

In fact, contacts using as little as 50mW FM have been achieved via the Amateur Satellites. Any repeater operation in the satellite segment, no matter how low power, will block the transponders and critical satellite command and control systems.

Some of the Italian repeaters operating in the 2m Amateur Satellite allocation are:

FM repeater IR0CK 145.850MHz

D-Star Repeater IR3UEF 145.800MHz
(the International Space Station frequency)

D-Star Repeater IR0CD 145.975MHz

Readers concerned about the blatent disregard of IARU bandplans are invited to make the Italian regulator aware of the international interference that repeaters operating in 145.8-146.0MHz cause. Email should be sent to:

ISS Fan Club – Downlink Intruders in Italy

YouTube – FM interference to amateur radio satellites

How old is my IFR am/fm-1200

So you have an IFR 1200, 1200A or 1200S? Do you want to know how old or more about it?

Many people want to learn more about the history of the technology they are using. The IFR 500’s and 1200’s have a unique and fun history. Almost all of the history is trackable via the serial number. I will mention several serial numbers in this section and although I should be pretty accurate, I have not cross-referenced this with IFR. As I recall, IFR would select a few units for example SN 5010 to have an upgrade yet SN 5011 – 5022 would not (???). In other words, not everything was uniform.

Here’s a little history of the IFR 500’s & 1200’s. What you need to remember is that the RF block diagrams for the 1200 and 500 are identical, hence, many modules are interchangeable between the 2 units. The IFR am/fm-1200 was in production for approximately 20 years, and an assortment of upgrades were made during that time. The basic “keel” was designed by Harold Silem who died shortly after early production. In the Early 80’s IFR launched the basic 500 and the basic 1200 with Spectrum Analyzer; both with serial numbers starting from (SN)1000. The IFR am/fm-1200A non-Spectrum box started at SN 1000 also. I would guess that there are 25,000 of these units on the planet (possibly more).

If you own a 1200 or 500, you may have the best product IFR has ever produced. They are reliable, very well-engineered and for the most part, almost all failures can be repaired. My only fear is that I am going to have a CRT failure, even though they are durable, and very few failures occur with the CRT (not the scope modules), getting a replacement is because of price and availability. Other than that either box is awesome! People ask me “were there any bad years?” and the answer is NO! Every 500 or 1200 was at the least “good”. Now you might want to take into consideration that they had 20 years to make improvements. So, if you own a 500 with an SN of 5000 or above, or a 1200S with an SN of 10000 or above, it should have had all the bugs or minor flaws eliminated and you have a field tested box for well over 10 years. Obviously, I would prefer to have a 1200 Super S. If you are fortunate to find one at a decent price, BUY IT!. Otherwise, we have to deal with the older units which are great but may have some minor hitches.

On this site you might find the term “Blue PC boards”. These boards were a nightmare. Any excess heat can destroy a pad and possibly ruin the entire board. The very early sets had almost all blue fiberglass boards in them especially the SN 1000 & 2000’s. I was able to pick up an old junk 1200 of this vintage with all of the blue pc boards in top shape. I now use it practically all the time. My point here is, BE CAREFUL WHEN WORKING ON THESE BOARDS!, they are easily damaged. As far as I know the older power supply (SN 4490 and below) are no longer being serviced at the factory. They will only sell you a new style. I will still work on these old power supplies, but they creat noise and cause a 45khz spike noticeable on the Spectrum Analyzer. The new power supplies addressed this snag. A new power supply is very $$$ and the old ones are still okay as long as all the modifications are done on them.

Alabama stormnet-birmingham frequencies

Alabama ARES Jefferson County amateur radio storm reporting frequencies
Amateur Radio Emergency Service, ARES® consists of licensed amateurs who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment for communications duty in the public service when disaster strikes. Every licensed amateur, regardless of membership in ARRL or any other local or national organization, is eligible for membership in the ARES. The only qualification, other than possession of an Amateur Radio license, is a sincere desire to serve. Because ARES is an amateur service, only amateurs are eligible for membership. The possession of emergency powered equipment is desirable, but is not a requirement for membership.

Alabama ARES Jefferson County amateur radio storm reporting frequencies
Primary frequency
Secondary frequency
NT*Sn7, T9