K4KPN-15 2m APRS Digi/I-Gate Shutdown

January 2, 2020

The K4KPN-15 2m APRS Digipeater/I-Gate will be turned off sometime in late January 2020. Due to my biz/future plans I no longer have any need to keep the location that currently houses that gear.

K4KPN-15 was always a temp fill-in location, low profile, and considerable previous notice of its shutdown has been given for awhile now. KYPN currently has no sites that would be friendly (either space or RF wise) to a busy 144 MHz transmitter.

The hopes have been that if there was enough 2m APRS interest in the area that others would step up and run a digi/i-gate at a better location. I personally offered the former WA4ZKO-15 TNC & radio “free to the cause” if someone had a good site and would assume 24x7x365 responsibility for it under their callsign….no takers.

I realize that the area’s 2m APRS scene has taken a lot of hits over the last few years. The loss of the Lawrenceburg (IN), Dry Ridge, and Edgewood KY digis really clobbered Northern KY coverage. The loss of the high profile Lexington digi did a number on Central KY coverage. A few low profile RX only gates have helped gate in trackers in a few areas, but they do nothing for 2-way messaging and other APRS network functions.

UPDATE:  Jan 2, 2020 – Good news, it appears Edgewood (K8SCH-10) was restored this morning.

In a way I hate to turn K4KPN-15 off, but there just isn’t enough local interest in 2m APRS now nor do we have a good site for it going forward.

Due to economy related job relocations, retirement related moves, and a growing list of Silent Keys the original KYPN crew is now just a fraction of what it was in the 1990’s. It is what it is. Fewer and fewer ops and resources keeping quality RF infrastructure on the air. As we’ve seen with the slow demise of the KY and IN DMR voice systems/networks, these challenges are not just limited to the APRS/packet scene.

KYPN’s wallet and resources are also not without limits. As such we can’t run everything for everybody and will have to periodically evaluate where our finite time/resources should be devoted.

For 30 years KYPN has kept packet systems on the air except for about a month in the summer of 2016 when things went from a multi-port stack to a single port (6m) TNC Mailbox. Those three decades have seen a lot of changes and challenges. As we head into this new decade I suspect there will be more of the same combined with new threats to our spectrum and the hobby’s future. My biggest recommendation to every ham is to get on the airwaves, be active, try and use new bands. There is more to ham radio than HF and 2 meter FM.

 

K4KPN-6 & K4KPN-10 Future?

KYPN will continue to provide the HF and 6m APRS digis/gates 24x7x365. Frankly those alone are enough of a time/money/resource commitment LOL.

The K4KPN-6 6m APRS digi/gate (K4KPN-6) is more of summer/winter “propagation toy” and a free perk running on top of an existing 6m packet node/app stack. 6m APRS definitely comes in handy at times, but it is NOT intended to replace the 2m APRS network.

The K4KPN-10 HF digi/gate is a key and valuable site on the NOAM HF network due to both location and the site’s very low noise floor providing excellent receive range. To save some money we changed it’s internet feed around after the last move, but we have no plans to turn it off. K4KPN-10 meets some real needs and the one piece of KYPN APRS infrastructure that gets noticed if it is offline for more than few minutes for maintenance/etc LOL.

 

 

K4KPN-1 Packet BBS Future?

The BPQ32 node/BBS/chat server remain key components of our local EMCOMM strategy. As such there no plans to turn any of them off.

The BBS and node have already been switched over to the club callsign to facilitate a future location change to the backup site. That location change WILL involve the loss of the 2m port due to available space and RF environment reasons.

The 6m port’s future is not guaranteed, but I may keep it online nearby and remote serial-IP linked in over the Canopy inter-tower LAN. We could move it to the backup site, but the VHF noise floor there is pretty bad. We would also prefer to keep that rack space available for gear to support a future 40/17m HF Robust Packet (RP) port for user access and likely some eventual linking to the 7-land BBS. We will cross that bridge when the time comes.

Ports that are safe bets long term?  The 70cm 9.6k and 220 1.2k primary ports and the 10m RP port. They are key to our operations and historically seen the most “real” usage over the years.

 

 

K4KPN-14 Winlink RMS Future?

I would expect a shutdown notice for it in the coming weeks. No date has been set yet.

I would note that this does not depend upon the upcoming FCC ruling. Plus let’s face it, the first ruling will likely be just the first of many rulings needed. It’s not hard to see and connect the dots of what is really driving that mess.

Plus it doesn’t seem that many (if any) of the Winlink HF gateway operators have learned anything from this mess. Still scattered all across the digital sub-bands with more than few poor frequency choices just asking for QRM problems.  One only has to sort this list here by frequency and in many places be left asking “are they really that inconsiderate or just that incompetent/ignorant of the spectrum they operate in?”

 

73
WA4ZKO /7


FAQ:  I’m Interested in APRS but I Have Security Concerns With It.

December 19, 2019

A common question regarding APRS is the security risks of putting your home, car, etc on a public map. I tend to think a lot of that concern is over-blown, but the risks are not zero. I know that some of the recent ham gear thefts, including some high profile ones have understandably created some legitimate physical security concerns across the ham radio community.

As someone with a LE background I can tell you that most vehicle burglaries are more spontaneous crimes of opportunity versus targeted thefts. If your vehicle is targeted by a thief then they probably just saw your visible antenna collection or they walked by and saw radio gear that you left in plain sight just asking for a smash-n-grab.

Home and business burglaries are the ones more likely to be targeted efforts. Often there will some searching for targets and “casing” them prior to the crime. Still I wouldn’t worry too much about a home station on an APRS map when you have a radio tower or antennas visible from the road LOL.

That said life will never be a zero-risk adventure. The wise will mitigate risk as much as practical then plan for and insure against the rest.

If you have serious security concerns about being active on APRS there are many things you can do to help minimize risk/exposure. Obviously how much or how far you should take some of these ideas will vary and depend upon your particular risk profile.

 

1.  Take advantage of position ambiguity. You don’t have to use high accuracy position data in your beacons. Some of the APRS capable radios, software, and even some GPS systems can run with reduced precision. Part of my commercial gear has a GPS output that I can limit the resolution of and even which particular GPS sentences it outputs. I often take advantage of it for my Tracker’s GPS feed then use a separate GPS system for high accuracy full-time navigation needs.

For fixed (non-moving) objects maybe consider just manually adjusting things to plot at another nearby location.

 

2.  Consider getting a PO Box or using another address for your public FCC data versus listing your full home address.

 

3.  Neighbors looking out for neighbors is a powerful tool. When we lived over in town we were on a good street, but the next ridge over was a source of some concern when we were not home.

Now both QTHs are in very low crime areas and we have great neighbors. We all stay in touch and have a good feel for who and what is normal or not. A retired state trooper and detective both live down the road plus a deputy sheriff living up the road from our 4-land QTH doesn’t hurt either.

We are also blessed to have have a retired elderly neighbor that spends most of her day by a window that overlooks our 4-land place. We often joke that she probably knows more about what is going on there than we do.  I have received a call when a FEDEX delivery guy spent too long in the driveway for her liking LOL.

 

4. Install good physical and electronic security in and around your home.

Our former 4-land home was a lease and we couldn’t install a wired security system. Plus decent affordable wireless systems had not hit the market yet. Today it’s a whole different game.

One of the first things I did this year with the 4-land QTH was to beef up both automation and interior/exterior electronic surveillance of the house and property.  It’s handy for more than just security and paying for itself in a multitude of ways including 7% off our homeowner’s insurance.

 

5. Beacon upon departure from a location versus your arrival when parked in strange or high risk areas.

I use this approach a lot since it fits well with how I operate HF when on the road since I’m usually swapping the 60m/30m antennas for the smaller 6m antenna used when mobile in the car.

You can also turn off your beacons just prior to arrival. Or as the other half likes to say “turn off the tracking collar” LOL.

 

6. Don’t be “daily predictable” in your movements if you don’t have to. Actually good advice for more than just your movements on APRS if you feel you are at higher than normal risk.

 

7. Think twice about mounting clearly visible GPS and radio control heads up on top of your vehicle’s dash for the whole world to easily spot.

 

8.  Use simple camouflage techniques.

Put a ballcap over that GPS puck on the dash when parked.  Get a towel that matches the interior color of your car. Use it to cover up your radios while parked. This works especially well if you have them mounted down low or in the console….I use this often.

 

9.  Learn “gray man” techniques. Don’t make yourself or your vehicles stand out from the crowd. Blend in, don’t unnecessarily attract attention.

Don’t have “please burglarize me” signs/decals on your vehicle. Think twice about those decals that advertise you have valuables inside. Take the ham radio and car audio decals off your car. You are advertising that you likely have valuable electronics inside. Yes for some of you with mobile antenna farms on your vehicle those decals may be the least visible part of the equation LOL.

 

dont_be_this_guy

Don’t be this guy. #OhDear

 

Evaluate your antenna needs. Do you need that big shiny fancy looking (to a thief), easy to spot across the parking lot high gain mobile antenna or would you be just fine with a flat black painted 1/4 wave spike or similarly sized dual-band antenna? Maybe use a compatible mount and keep the bigger antennas in the trunk for when you really need them. Trust me, a well located and fed 1/4 wave spike will work just as well as a poorly located high gain mobile antenna. A few dB of gain doesn’t help if it’s not going in useful directions. I’ve seen my share of “nice high gain antenna, shame you wasted it that way” installs.

For the firearm enthusiasts in our ranks consider taking those NRA/GOA or Glock/Sig/etc decals off your vehicle. Many of your fellow firearm owners and law enforcement appreciate that you enjoy legal firearm ownership, but also cringe when they see those. Why? You are advertising to thieves that there is probably a firearm inside your vehicle. A stolen radio is bad enough, but a stolen firearm is a risk to public safety for what should be obvious reasons. Own it, respect it, secure it, …..your responsibility.

Don’t leave valuable items unsecured in parked vehicles if you don’t have to. Yes vehicle alarms are a good idea, but depending upon the situation they may not help you with a smash-n-grab. Quick question…did you even do more than a glance (if that) the last time you heard a car alarm going off out in a parking lot?

Consider installing a vehicle safe to put things behind a second serious lock. FYI – the locks on factory glove boxes and center consoles will barely slow down a thief and those are the first two places they will look once inside your vehicle.

 

10.  This is a biggie that many people are walking failures at. Practice good situational awareness (SA). Good SA will not only help you avoid becoming a property theft statistic it will also help with your personal safety.

Get your head out of that damn cellphone and pay attention to your surroundings when out in public. Learn to pay attention to your gut instincts. Did that out of place car just go by again? Why is that guy wearing a coat in hot weather? Is that guy approaching us acting odd? Was that really a magazine salesman knocking on the door or a scout for a home burglary crew checking to see if anyone was home?

When pulling in somewhere to park take a look around as you choose a spot. Is that group of rowdy kids over there just having fun on a Friday night or are they a pack of trouble brewing? Don’t park in high risk areas if you don’t have to. Park near security cameras in well lit central/front areas of a parking lot, not some dimly lit or dark corner.

Good SA will not only help you avoid becoming a property theft statistic it will also help with your personal safety. This doesn’t mean you live in fear or operate at DEFCON 2 all the time. You just live prepared, observant, and take a few easy steps to help reduce risk.

Those looking for trouble are not much of a problem to those ready for them.
The late Patrick Swayze line from the Road House movie.

Or you can stick your head in the sand and operate under the “ignorance is bliss, bad things never happen to good people” illusion and take your chances.

 

73
WA4ZKO


Marine Corp Marathon 2019 Live on APRS-IS via 6m APRS

October 27, 2019

October 27, 2019:  (updated)

Well the Marine Corp Marathon is underway in the Washington DC area this morning. So far no decodes here, but heard a broken burst a few minutes ago that almost decoded.

Six meter APRS doing a nice job of handling the channel load and providing good track resolution this morning. Screencap from where I’m watching things (from afar) via an APRS-IS feed of what the 6m I-Gates there are gating.  (click image for full size)

MCM_14_UnderWay2_6m_APRS

Zoomed in a bit more….       (click image for full size)

For those with APRS-IS access you can set the following filter in your software to watch the feed:

filter e/K7BC-6/K7BC-3

You can also follow it here on aprs.fi.

 

73

WA4ZKO


6 Meter APRS will be Supporting the USMC Marathon this Sunday, Fall Update

October 25, 2019

October 25, 2019:

Six meter APRS (50.6200 MHz 1200 baud) will again be used my ham radio in support of the Marine Corps Marathon this Sunday in the Washington DC area.

Looks like Bruce (K7BC) and crew have deployed the temp/backup digi MCM-14 today and been testing several of the trackers earlier this week.  This is in addition to the existing full-time K4AF-6 6m APRS digipeater at the Pentagon MARS station.

While it may need some last minute revisions, this link should provide a decent live view of the network’s performance.  (Link updated 0759 local Sunday)

For giggles, KYPN will be putting our K4KPN-6 6m BPQ32 based APRS Digipeater/I-Gate’s best receiver (Jonesville “east” site) on a 5 element beam aimed east sometime late on Saturday. This time of the year an eskip opening – especially one strong enough to support that short VA<>KY path – is unlikely.  That said, we are just on the downside of the Orionids peak so there’s a decent chance of some meteor scatter reception with all those packets flying around there starting during the early morning hours.

On another note, I just noticed the summer KYPN Summer Update just expired off the K4KPN-1 packet BBS and I should do a Fall update soon. I’ll probably post the Fall Update here before we head off for the holiday season.

 

73

WA4ZKO


Inbox ?s Frequencies, 80 Meters?

November 5, 2018

Apparently starting blogging again after several months of being scarce results in a rash of inquiries. Since I have a rare Monday afternoon off after unpacking the car and running errands this morning I’ll tackle a couple things.

Frequency wise nothing has changed this year other than the addition of APRS to the six meter port of the Jonesville node. Below should make a good quick reference:

BPQ32 Node KYJVL - Jonesville, KY EM78PP 
Port 1: 441.0500 MHz 9.6k   (primary user port)
Port 2: 145.6900 MHz 1.2k   (user port)
Port 3: 223.6600 MHz 1.2k   (user port, low speed linking)
Port 4: WAN            (intrasite Canopy/VPN links)
Port 5: 28.1480 MHz USB RP  (user port)
Port 6: 50.6200 MHz 1.2k    (user port, APRS Digi/Gate)
 
NODE = K4KPN-4
BBS  = K4KPN-1
CHAT = K4KPN-13
RMS  = K4KPN-14

Some have asked if there will be an 80m RP port? Maybe a temporary one next Fall, but it will involve whether or not some spare gear becomes available. I’m not going to go “buy” gear just for an 80m port because it’s not going to be a viable band at the future site. Problem revolves around space constraints, local noise floors (80 is nasty there), and control op privileges.

10 meters may have to be it for HF depending on who eventually takes over daily control op responsibilities of all K4KPN gear. The two most likely future control ops are still “techs” so that plays into things – I’m doing some nudging LOL. The trustee/control op questions will be part of the decision making on what bands move to the future site. Technician class licensees can both use and be control ops of that 10 meter robust packet port above so NBD there.

 

WA4ZKO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Fall 2018 6m APRS and Misc Update

November 2, 2018

Figured I’d take this “downtime” evening in 4-land and toss together a quick update on the 6m APRS system and a status report. Note that I have several draft blog postings that I’ll try to finalize in the coming weeks. Sorry for the lack of posts, but get used to that being the new normal on here due to other priorities. Hey, you get what you pay for 😉

Well hopefully everyone had a good summer. I wound up being back-n-forth bi-coastal more than originally planned but it’s all good. It stresses the XYL at times, but like I remind her “we’re healthy, we have a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, we can pay our bills, job security is not a concern, and we’re ahead of the game on retirement plans so let us realize just how blessed we are.” We recently got in from a nice Fall trip up in New England. We were a bit late for peak Fall foliage color in the inland areas, but there was some spectacular color along the coastal areas.

We stopped in 4-land for a quick work project and I needed to absentee vote this year. A longtime friend and former co-worker is running for Judge Exec and his Chief Deputy is running to fill his shoes as Sheriff. We also have a somewhat interesting statehouse race.

So I just cast what may be my last vote as a Kentuckian. The other half is an official Wyomingite so we’re heading back west this week so she can vote there. Plus we both need to get a pile of work done before holiday hustle and bustle arrives.

Hey where the heck did 2018 go to? Current plans are Thanksgiving in 4-land, then another extended family Christmas in the Idaho mountains, followed by New Years Eve in Wyoming. Hey the snow is piling up on the mountains so holiday mountain grandeur and fresh powder to play in = yes please!

Hopefully during some of the holiday downtime I can get the blog and some other ham radio documentation projects caught up for the locals. No guarantees though LOL.

Okay, moving on to some status reports….

6m APRS:

K4KPN-6/-4 was moved from the Jonesville tower site to the Jonesville “East” tower site (my personal tower) in early September after some coverage testing. The east site has a lower noise floor (better receive performance) and still meets coverage needs into the three tough to cover EMCOMM relevant locations we keep that port around for.

The K4KPN-6 6m APRS Digi/I-gate remains on the air 24×7 on 50.6200 MHz using 1200 baud AFSK and no changes are currently planned.

KI4WEF recently got his home Outpost PMM terminal on the air again from the new home he is building. He’s on a temporary 6m antenna till he finalizes how he’s going to setup his new station. His station is also beaconing an APRS compatible beacon so we have another 6m APRS station on the air.

I haven’t had time to confirm the details but scuttlebutt is 6m APRS is being used in some of the Marine Corps Marathon events. Cool eh?

 

Packet and Repeaters:

Most all the packet gear has been shifted over to the club callsign.  I just got the coordination for 444.4250+ repeater switched over to the club callsign and will reprogram it’s ID when time allows. This is all part of an evolving plan to move things over to the JFD tower site and let Greg, Lonnie, and Mark manage it once we fully retire out west.

There has been some talk about making 425 dual-mode analog/FUSION or analog/P25. The reasoning will be explained later on. It’s currently on the air from Williamstown in low profile test mode as I need to finish tweaking it. Current plans are to relocate it back to its primary site at JFD once some antenna and feedline repairs are completed there. ETA on that move = good question, probably going to be next Spring.

 

Node/BBS/RMS Shutdown plans:

Several have understandably asked if these systems will still be around in a few years. First off I’m not going to guarantee anything. I have plans but I can’t predict the future. It is just just a hobby, we don’t charge a dime in dues, we do what we do for the love of packet radio. Several silent keys and folks moving off for work/retirement reasons have left KYPN and packet activity in N. Kentucky at a fraction of what it used to be. It is what it is.

Actual local utilization will drive choices on what remains. Rack space and site integration issues at the future site will also play a role. There’s not going to be room for everything there so if I was to hazard a guess? The 10m RP, 220 1.2k, and 441 9.6k ports will be what remains. For those wondering what packet gear to invest in? There’s your answer 😉

 

2m APRS:

The K4KPN-15 2m APRS Digi/I-Gate is scheduled to be turned off January 2020. It is at a location where I lease space for my day job. I’m slowly extricating myself from my KY obligations and will not need that space come 2020.

I don’t have any free site that would accommodate K4KPN-15. Hopefully some others will step up and run some of the local 2m APRS infrastructure.

K4KPN-15’s days are numbered. Plenty of notice has been provided.

 

30m RP APRS / K4KPN-10:

While there are no current plans to shut down K4KPN-10 I am looking at moving it to a site near the VA/KY border. This is where one of my day job clients has a spare HF antenna and some rack space.

I’ve had the VA site patched into the WAN loop since July. I’ve been playing with both IP and stream feeding a spare modem on the remote radio there into K4KPN-10. Results show very little difference in NOAM and S. EU coverage and a slight improvement on the N. EU path. So that’s looking like an option I may explore further when time allows for me to run more tests from out west.

 

Well I’m beat and we want to hit the road early so that’s enough for now.

WA4ZKO


K4KPN-6 6 Meter APRS Digi / I-Gate Full Availability

August 10, 2018

Observing a need for a 6 meter APRS I-Gate in this region, KYPN realized the K4KPN-4 BPQ32 node could probably meet this need without any additional hardware investment. Recent versions of the BPQ32 node software have considerable built-in APRS digi/gate capabilities that only need to be configured and enabled.

The past few months showed that the past trend of most activity on the node being on the UHF 9.6k, 220 1.2k, and 10m RP ports was still holding true today. Thus we pondered could the APRS features on the 6m port be enabled and would they coexist with the existing Node and its BBS, Chat, and RMS functions? If both could coexist then it was frankly a no-brainer to do it.  The 6m port puts out a stout signal that penetrates well into the valleys and hilly terrain common to the area.

The 6 meter APRS scene has seen bursts of activity over the years, but good 24x7x365 digi/gate infrastructure is very rare outside of a few pockets of activity. The rest has been more of  what I’d call seasonal activity of folks firing up on frequency to listen for packet/APRS DX during the late Spring and Summer e-skip seasons. Others use it as a less congested alternative to the mess that 2m APRS can be in some areas.

At one time there was a push to build up packet infrastructure on 50.620 across the country for the PropNet network. The WSPR mode and network came on the scene and its many advantages stagnated PropNET growth. What remains of PropNet seems mostly focused on PSK31 operations on HF. No PropNET packet operations have been noted on 50.620 for over a decade now. This means 50.6200 MHz is an underutilized frequency begging to be put to good uses.

Testing showed both APRS and conventional packet should coexist fine on the Jonesville BPQ32 node’s 6m port. Thus on the afternoon of July 9, 2018 KYPN spun up K4KPN-6 on 50.6200 MHz 1200 baud AFSK packet mode. K4KPN-6 offers both full WIDEn-n compliant digipeating and basic R-I-R (2-way) I-Gate messaging functions.

The current plans are to run K4KPN-6 24×7. The 6m port beacons an APRS compatible beacon every 5 minutes to help detect DX openings. Beaconing faster would provide a better chance of catching meteor burns, but 5 minutes was felt to be a good compromise value for a mixed use port.

The advanced APRS digipeater functions available in BPQ32 are downright slick and one can tell John gave them some thought. The I-Gate side has some cosmetic issues, but it is plenty usable from a functionality standpoint. I’ll try to run some changes/improvements past John (G8BPQ) this winter. He is busy sailing/traveling during the Summer months. Thus I avoid bugging him with non-critical feature requests and minor bug reports that can wait. John should be deemed a Saint for his patience with his user base and his willingness to continually improve BPQ32/LinBPQ.

So far K4KPN-6 looks like a valuable asset both locally and for the 6m APRS DX folks. Best of all with our existing 6m port on the Jonesville BPQ32 system there was no need to buy anything else. Just enable and configure the functions you want in the bpq32 config file and restart the node. Obviously you’ll need an APRS-IS login and password if you want to use the I-Gate functionality.

Node and application stack (BBS, Chat, RMS) remain available on the 6m port. The APRS functions are just another application running on the node.

 

6m APRS Path Recommendations?

Making use of the K4KPN-6 6m APRS digi/I-gate functions is no different than operating on 2m APRS. Paths of WIDE1-1 or WIDE1-1,WIDE2-1 are good choices for 1-hop and 2-hop paths.

 

6m APRS Beacon Rate Recommendations?

The 6 meter APRS frequency is not overloaded like the 2m APRS is in so many areas of the country. There is plenty of spare airtime on the channel. Thus the use of aggressive beacon rates is unlikely to be an issue. 5 or 10 minute rates for infrastructure sites should be fine in most areas.

Temporary use of even faster rates for testing or during meteor shower peak times should not be an issue and would increase the odds of snagging a burn. Mobiles can probably dial things down to 1 or 2 minute rates.

 

6m APRS Biggest Range Challenge? Noise Floor

The 50 MHz band propagates locally just like the 30-50 MHz VHF-Low band that you may be familiar with. Not so great in a pure urban environment. So so in a suburban environment, but ultimately best suited to rural environments where its range and terrain penetration qualities can shine.

Note:  There’s a reason why a surprising number of users remain active in the VHF-Low Band spectrum even though it doesn’t get much press. Current marketing/sales efforts are geared towards selling more expensive and complex systems on the higher bands. The range and simplicity of VHF-Low systems are still a good fit for some users.

Don’t laugh at Low band. VHF….  I know of a 46 MHz system installed in the early 1980’s that is still in use. Now that’s serious ROI. Also note that the VHF/UHF Part 90 narrowbanding mandate did NOT apply to VHF-Low systems.

Back on topic….

All things being equal 6 meters has more range potential than 2m. Problem is in the real world of RF all things are rarely equal. On 6m you are probably using a lower gain base antenna and most likely a less efficient mobile antenna system compared to say 2 meters. In most real world installs some of this will be offset by higher standard transmit powers, less free space losses, lower feedline losses, and better terrain penetration. All that aside, the main range limiter for 6m operators today is the higher local noise floor (NF) compared to the higher bands.

The old enemy of power line noise remains, but it is now joined by a wide variety of noise spewing consumer electronics clobbering both HF and the lower VHF spectrum. Sadly this is a problem that will only get worse unless the FCC cracks down on a lot of the cheap poorly designed/filtered junk behind so much of the problem. Even then it would take ages for device attrition to clean up the spectrum much. Plus we’ve become a society that expects everything to be super cheap versus paying for higher quality equipment.

Where you live and operate can make a huge difference and must be factored in unless you like surprises. I was stunned at the NF differences between the old KY QTH and our temp place here. Living out in farm country most of my life definitely spoiled me. I wouldn’t call this “urban” by any means, but having several neighbors nearby = a lot more noise on the bands. I was initially worried about the big power distribution lines a few hundred yards away out back. Turns out they are actually the least of the NF problems here LOL.

Every amateur radio band has it’s pros, cons, and unique propagation characteristics. Six meters is no exception to that rule. It remains a local workhorse of a band that also offers some fun DXing at times. It is called the Magic Band for a good reason.

WA4ZKO /7