What defines a beacon

Discussion in 'Areas where further guidance would be helpful' started by Tim K, Dec 10, 2014.

  1. Tim K

    Tim K Member

    With the advent of digital modes such as WSPR, are these to be considered a beacon and what defines unattended use? It seems many people run WSPR for long periods when they are home yet not sitting directly at their equipment (as can be the case with many digital modes).

    Beacon is also a circular reference by its definition

    17(1)(f) “Beacon” means automatic transmitting only Radio Equipment which is operated
    by the Licensee in accordance with Clause 10 and Schedule 2 of this Licence;

    10(1) The Licensee may conduct Unattended Operation of Radio Equipment provided that
    any such operation is consistent with the terms of this Licence. Additional restrictions which
    apply to the Unattended Operation of Beacons are specified in Schedule 2 to this Licence.

    So to be pedantic, if I operate a transmitter transmitting my callsign in morse every 10 minutes which is unattended and DO NOT use the frequencies specified in Schedule 2, by 17(1)(f), I'm not operating a beacon and thus schedule 2 doesn't seem to apply
  2. g6jyb

    g6jyb Moderator Staff Member

    Beacons (and other use) also needs to comply with other conditions including addressing messages to other amateurs and....

    11(4) The Licensee shall not send Messages (whether directly or for onwards transmission
    by another station) for general reception"

    So personal/attended beacons for specific purposes or certain APRS use of 144.8 or DF competitions is covered by Schedule-2 - but general purpose unattended is not - which is where the GB/MBxxxx Beacon/Gateway/Repeater/Data NoVs come in

    Sec-10 is fairly complex and is due to have some new guidance, so that could cover this area too

  3. Tim K

    Tim K Member

    Good point there Murray. By my interpretation of 'General Reception' that would suggest that transmitting WSPR would not be allowed unless a WSPR message could be considered an initial message or WSPR was not considered general reception as it is to a specific group of people looking to receive WSPR messages.

    It would certainly be useful to clarify the term 'general reception' and what constitutes an initial message for these purposes. Same goes for DF competitions, even when sent attended by a fox as there is no two way communication. Given there are people expecting the communication I would suggest that may not be general reception
  4. Mark G8PHM

    Mark G8PHM New Member

    My take:
    WSPR beings with what amounts to a CQ call to amateur radio operators with suitable responders, namely WSPR capable equipment. Suitably equiped stations can respond. If one responds, a one to one QSO begins where signal reports, location details and power information can be exhanged. When several respond, then a net is formed, again, where signal reports, location, and power details are exchanged.

    In some cases, stations can upload their logs to an internet server. These logs are used to formate propagation analysis, predictions and such like.

    A transmit-only station can be used in these networks; a transmit-only station will send its location and power details into the networks, enabling at least one-directional propagation views to be obtained. Operators of transmit only stations can review internet logs in order to see where their signals have been received.

    I'm not aware of anything in the licence which actually requires a station to receive, as well as to transmit. There are plenty of requirements around not causing interference with other users, but transmitting alone doesn't appear to be prohibited in any way.

    The area will remain grey, as most CQ calls intended for reception, and sometimes response, by other stations, but the other station is often not known at the start of the CQ transmission, hence, at that point, it's clearly acceptable to send a transmission which can be received by, and reacted upon by, any station, including listen-only stations (SWLs for example).

    Traditional beacons of the GB/MB type do not generally participate in interactive networks, are intended to be received in 'real time', or human time, are typically fixed very precisely on a given frequency, often run fairly high power with very high gain antennae, and the most important distinction is probably that the traditional beacon is entirely useful stand-alone, there is no need for any other beacon, equipment (other than a receiver) for it to be useful. Whereas, WSPR is a form of multi-operator network, although some nodes maybe transmit only, they are non-real-time nodes designed specifically for computer reception and integration into a network of nodes. Probably the term 'beacon' is incorrect here in this context, but probably too late to change it.

    For me, there are very clear distinctions between the types, although expressing them clearly is somewhat challenging. My feeling is that WSPR transmit-only nodes are, in fact, nodes of a network, rather than stand-alone beacons.

    It's true that CQ calls are receivable in general, but they are only useful in the context of an initial transmission in order to start a point to point QSO or multi-point to multi-point net, hence they are clearly not beacons for different reasons.

    So now, someone condense that down to a couple of sentences :)

    Kind regards,

    G8PHM Mark

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