W1AW and QRM

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by N2EY, Jul 4, 2021.

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  1. N2EY

    N2EY XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Every so often, there's a......discussion.....about how W1AW just fires up on various frequencies to send bulletins and code practice.

    Some folks say that "no one owns a frequency" and that W1AW should "listen first" and QSY to a clear frequency if the published frequency is in use.

    Others point out that W1AW has been transmitting code practice and bulletins for almost 85 years (except during WW2), that the schedule is published and on the internet for all to see, and that it should be no big deal for operators to avoid W1AW.

    Let's look at the facts....

    First, consider the "listen and QSY" idea...how would it work in real life?

    W1AW transmits bulletins and code practice on 160, 80/75, 40, 20, 17, 15, 10, 6 and 2 meters.....9 frequencies, simultaneously.

    How should "the operator at W1AW" check each frequency before transmitting, ask people to move, etc.?

    The only way I can imagine that would work would be for the W1AW operator to start on one band, listen on the published frequency, and if it was in use, find a clear frequency. Once a clear frequency was found, have the transmitter on that band transmitting "QST from W1AW" continuously while each of the other bands are checked.

    Then, at the appointed time, the actual transmission would start.

    Consider the voice bulletins. They are transmitted just once per day, not including weekends, and take up no more than 15 minutes. Going to each frequency in turn and doing the "please QSY" routine would take about 20-30 minutes - longer than the actual bulletin time!

    Code practice and CW/RTTY bulletins are sent more frequently, resulting in even more time for each.

    Sounds pretty impractical to me.

    W1AW is pretty unique - no other amateur radio station I know of does what W1AW does. Staying clear of W1AW is pretty easy, really.

    And while we say "nobody owns a frequency", in reality, coordinated repeaters come pretty close.

    In cases of interference between coordinated and uncoordinated repeaters, FCC has repeatedly ruled that the coordinated repeater has preference over the uncoordinated repeater.

    Repeaters don't listen on the output before transmitting, either.

    There was a case where an amateur made a point of transmitting simplex on the repeater input frequency, claiming "nobody owns a frequency" - and the FCC ruled that those transmissions were deliberate interference. Same for transmitting on the output frequency when the repeater is in operation. And...FCC has ruled that the owners of a repeater have the right to control who can and cannot use a repeater, and that if an individual is informed by the owners they are not welcome on a repeater, they have to honor the request.

    There are also beacons, which transmit without listening.

    It seems to me that part of the problem is that, as digital modes have become popular, there is a tendency to choose "watering holes" without checking their use by others.

    This isn't new. Decades ago, 3579.545 became a popular "glowbug" frequency, because of the availability of NTSC color burst crystals. W1AW moved the 80 meter CW frequency to just above 3579.545 so that simple receivers could find W1AW just above the color burst frequency.

    This worked great....and then came PSK31.

    Soon after PSK31 appeared, there was an ingenious little rig called the Warbler, which was an inexpensive direct conversion 80 meter PSK31 transceiver on a single board that used color burst crystals in the receiver front end and for frequency control. The Warbler was connected to a computer with a sound card and suitable PSK31 software, and allowed operation on about 2 kHz of the band.

    The Warbler was very popular, and lots of hams got started with "soundcard digital modes" using them. They were so popular that the default PSK31 watering hole on 80 became the Warbler frequency range, even to those who didn't use them.

    The glowbug folks often found 3579.545 and thereabouts unusable. Now we have a similar situation on 40.

    Perhaps a solution would be for W1AW to move to easy-to-remember frequencies. For example, suppose the CW code practice and bulletin frequencies were all set at 50 kHz from the lower band edge - 1850, 3550, 7050, etc.

    What do others think?

    73 de Jim, N2EY
    WD0BCT, KO4PYL, WW0W and 4 others like this.
  2. K1VSK

    K1VSK Ham Member QRZ Page

    This again?
    N4FZ, N8ZL, W9FL and 3 others like this.
  3. W3WN

    W3WN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Why are you dredging this up again, Jim? Looking for a new argument to win?
    N4FZ, K1OIK, N3RYB and 1 other person like this.
  4. K0UO

    K0UO Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Who cares and I haven't listened to a bulletin from them for 20 years.

    I just use the Internet or QRZ to see what's going on now days .... .. HI

    73 from,
    The K0UO " Rhombic Antenna Farm" 2 miles of wire in the Air & On the daily
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2021
    KI5WW, KE0GXN, N3RYB and 1 other person like this.
  5. W0IS

    W0IS Ham Member QRZ Page

    When I became a ham in the 70s, I'm pretty sure they were always on .080 on most bands. I assumed they had been there since time immemorial.
  6. AI6DO

    AI6DO Ham Member QRZ Page

    I agree with your points, but it seems like the biggest issue is the variation between the US's and just about everyone else's bandplans on the 40 meter band. Rather than move to 7050, which is also allocated to digital in Region 1 and even Phone in Region 3 and Canada, I'd think it'd make more sense for W1AW's CW code practice and bulletins to move only on 40 meters, to the Extra segment from 7000 to 7025, which is restricted to CW pretty much everywhere.

    73, Ryan AI6DO
  7. VK4HAT

    VK4HAT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I just want ham radio that sounds like real ham radio.
    N1VAU and WA5VGO like this.
  8. W5IEI

    W5IEI Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    No one cares !!
    N8ZL, KI5WW and K1OIK like this.
  9. W2AI

    W2AI QRZ Lifetime Member #240 Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    KA0HCP and K1OIK like this.
  10. WG7X

    WG7X Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I've been a ham for a while now: 3.4 decades. Not a long time for some of you but long enough to have formed some (!) opinions about ham related stuff. Been an ARRL member all that time.

    That said, I have ever even once listened to a bulletin or "broadcast" from W1AW. Never felt the need. Ham "news" is never front page stuff and QST every month was and still is good enough.

    These days, with the online information available there is even less need for ARRL news and views. Code practice is another animal altogether. On air reception is very valuable. Actual QSO's are even better!

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