Finding Frequencies for WSPR Operation

We clearly have a critical mass of WSPR operation on 30m with over
25,000 spots on 30m alone in the last two days. As we being to think
about more systematic operation on bands other than 30m, we should
really standardize on where to operate. This message is long, but I
don't want anyone to think I'm arbitrarily suggesting changing some
frequencies on a whim.

To net it out, this is a proposal to:

1) Change the lightly used 10m and 17m frequencies;
2) Establish frequencies on 15m & 12m;
3) Leave 80m, 30m, and 20m where they are;
4) Solicit opinions for 40m and 160m, as I don't have one.

I'll also leave the subject of LF/VLF/VHF/UHF frequencies to someone
else who is more familiar with those bands.

Choosing frequencies for WSPR operation, particularly on a large,
organized scale (which we have become!), is more complicated than
just finding an unused place on the ham bands and spreading the
word. I think it's worth putting in the effort up front, as making any
changes only gets harder with time.

The IARU publishes recommended bandplans within their three regions.
Those are guidelines, and the individual governing bodies (e.g., the
FCC in the United States) make the specific rules for their domain of
authority. As it relates to us, there are blocks of frequencies
suggested for digital mode operation, and further subdivided in some
cases to narrow bandwidth digital (<500Hz typical) and wide bandwidth
(usually a typical SSB bandwidth) modes.

Another subdivision of the digial ranges in the bandplans is for
"automatic" operation. The guiding and governing bodies of amateur
radio have established the concept of Automaticly Controlled Digital
operation, which allows for unattended digital mode operation on
certain frequencies. These are the rules under which the
AMTOR/PACTOR/AX.25/ALE store-and-forward, etc., systems operate.

For a set of semi-dedicated stations participating in monitoring and
reporting on propagation, such as ourselves or PropNet, if we operate
under these rules, we can leave the rig on Tx/Rx while asleep or while
at work, where allowed by our licenses, collecting data around the clock
if we are so inclined.

Not everone wants to operate WSPR unattended, but many obviously do,
and it's clear that the ability to do so greatly enhances the utility
of a network of stations collecting propagation data. There are big
"network effects" at play here, whereby the value to everyone is
greatly increased as the number of stations using the mode at any
given time is increased. I think it's particularly important as we
try to test propagation around the world, where it's always sleep time
for about a third of us :-).

Note that rules for automatic digital operation are different than the
rules (and frequencies) applicable to beacons. Beacons are generally
considered bo be Tx-only; we both Rx and Tx data under automatic
control.

Furthermore, I realize there may always be two classes of WSPR
operators; the more-or-less aroud-the clock auto operators, and those
using it as an interactive tool simultaneously with other modes,
particularly other WSJT modes and QRSS/visual MEPT. The latter may
choose to operate in a different place (e.g., 14.076/7.076), with a more
interactive fashion involving simultaneous modes other than WSPR.
There's nothing wrong with that.

However, I think makes sense to identify frequencies which allow for
automatic operation in as much of the world as possible for those who
wish to, and where there is a choice, it probably makes sense to mix
in with narrow mode digital rather than wide modes.

Here's what I'm suggesting for dial frequencies. Obvously, whether
these are truly viable depends on other automatic activity, and I
haven't been doing a lot of monitoring yet...it's hard when several of
these bands haven't been open! I suggest we try these out and
adjust depending on QRM or if you make us aware of other local
restrictions.

Band Current Proposed
10m 28.160 28.1256
12m ------ 24.9256
15m ------ 21.0956
17m 18.103 18.1056
20m 14.0956 same
30m 10.1387 same
40m 7.0746 ?
80m 3.5926 same
160m 1.8086 ?

In choosing "proposed" frequencies, I've tried to stick with a common
pattern where possible to make it easier to remember (xx.xx5600,
resulting in a tx window of xx.xx7000-xx.xx7200, as we have been on
20m). I could argue that xx.xx3600 would be just as plausible for the
new bands, except on 15m where it would put us right on W1AW
RTTY :-).

Anyway, these are only my opinions, and I welcome discussion. No
one is in charge here!

Reference material: below is a summary of the relavent digital
portions of the IARU
bandplans in Regions 1, 2, and 3, as well as the USA (FCC)
allocations for Automatic Digital stations. In all cases of the IARU
and US allocations, they refer to actual transmitted passband, not
dial frequency. The version of IARU region 3 I've seen doesn't show
any automatic segments, and I don't know about local regulations in
that region.

I've also listed PropNet dial frequencies, as they have been through
all this research over years and selected frequencies on several bands
(but not all).

Legend
r1: IARU Region 1 bandplan
r2: IARU Region 2 bandplan
r3: IARU Region 2 bandplan
US: USA FCC rules for auto operation
PN: Propnet dial frequency; tx offsets 1300-1600Hz
A: Automatic (unattended) digital operation
N: Narrow-band (<500Hz) modes

10m:
r1: 28120-150 A/N, 28300-320 A, 29200-300 A
r2: 28120-150 A/N, 28300-320 A, 29200-300 A
r3: 28050-150 N
US: 28120-189 A
PN: 28128, 28131
current: 28.160 -- OK for US, but not in auto range of IARU band plans
proposed: 28.1256/28.1271

12m:
r1: 24925-929 A/N, 24931-940 A
r2: 24925-929 A/N, 24931-940 A
r3: 24920-930 N
US: 24925-930 A
PN: 24924 dial
proposed: 24.9256/24.9271

15m:
r1: 21090-21110 A/N
r2: 21090-21110 A/N
r3: 21070-21125 N
US: 21090-21100 A
PN: none
proposed: 21.0956/21.0971

17m:
r1: 18105-18109 A/N, 18111-120 A
r2: 18105-18109 A/N, 18111-120 A
r3: 18100-18110 N
US: 18105-18110 A
PN: 18105 dial
current: 18.103 -- not in auto range for US, IARU R1 & R2
proposed: 18.1056/18.1071

20m:
r1: 14089-14099 A/N, 14101-14112 A
r2: 14089-14099 A/N, 14101-14112 A
r3: 14070-14112 N
US: 14095-140995, 141005-14112 A
PN: 14097 dial
current: 14.0956 ok, was chosen after monitoring for auto QRM

30m:
r1: 10.140-150 N
r2: 10.130-150 N
r3: 10.140-150 N
PN: 10138.9
US: 10140-150 A
current: 10.1387 wedged between QRSS and Propnet, not much alternative

40m:
r1: 7038-040 A/N, 7040-043 A
r2: 7038-040 A/N, 7040-043 A
r3: 7025-040 N
US: 7100-105 A
current: 7.0746/7.0761 + operation on
no viable frequency for auto operation

80m:
r1: 3590-600 A/N, 3600-3620 A
r2: 3590-600 A/N, 3600-3625 A
r3: none specified
US: 3585-600 A
current: 3.5926 was chosen after monitoring for auto QRM

160m:
r1: 1838-1840 N digi, 1838-843 digi
r2: 1800-1810 digi
r3: none specified
current: 1.8086, but that doesn't fit in any digi segment
no viable frequency for auto operation