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Signal Intelligence By Russell Bryant (Leading Scanner Writer)

Whose on first? (This story also appeared in Radio World Vol 1 No 2 March/April 2002)
 
 

Every year on the 26th of January, Australian's from all walks of life and from every corner of the country come together to celebrate - my eldest daughters birthday. She is you might say, a complete Australian, being born on our national day. As part of our family activities we usually head to the tourist precinct around Sydney's Darling Harbour. On Australia Day, the area is a sea of people partaking of the activities and entertainment provided.

The day climaxes in a fire works display to rival New Years Eve, accompanying the pyrotechnic show are musicians,lasers and light display.

All the activity surrounding the finale is co-ordinated via radio. The director, his assistants, the various technicians and general helpers make extensive use of two ways. The question we all should be asking is, what frequency are the operating on?

With my ICR2 (the small size makes it a delight to carry around) and discrete earpiece I set forth to find exactly where the "behind the scenes" people might be, RF wise. It took me less than a minute to find them,locking onto 471.1500 MHz. While there was no voice to immediately suggest it was them, the fact that a constant carrier was present, was a dead giveaway. Most directors talk back links run hot. Seconds later a transmission confirmed it was indeed the back stage staff.

The trick here was knowing where to search, which band was likely to be used and how it could be setup. Alas there is no easy way to find out. Experience is the key here, years of studying band plans, frequency tables and individual radio setups has paid off.

It would be nice if it was possible to catalogue every user of the RF spectrum and neatly pigeon hole them. In other words state that the media can always be found here, or the emergency services there. But life isn't that straight forward. What I can do is itemize the most common radio bands and where the scanner enthusiast might find activity. Little can be gain from scanning the frequencies around 454 MHz for example, as this is where the repeater input frequencies for the 464 MHz band are to be found. To make scanning easier and more enjoyable for novice and experienced devotee alike, I have included a list of the lower and upper limits of the three most popular radio bands, they being VHF mid bad, VHF high band and UHF 400 MHz to 520 MHz. Included is the number of channels contained within those bands, the spacing between channels and if possible how the band is used, land, marine and or aeronautical mobile. So without much more to do, here is the plan.

VHF MID BAND 70 MHz to 87.5 MHz

In the earlier nineties, the then Department of Communications determined that a number of radio services needed to be restructured in order to cope with the increased demand upon the bands. The VHF mid band was one such area that underwent a significant change in the way frequencies were assigned. On major reform was the provision of two frequency simplex allocations, or repeaters as they are more commonly known. The other key variation was the introduction of 12.5 kHz channel separation, replacing the existing 30 kHz channelling. Most areas of Australia have switched, however old band plans may still be in place in the more remote regions of Australia. The abbreviation CHBW is channel bandwidth which is basically channel spacing.

PART LOWER UPPER CH'S USE CHBW ASSIGNMENT

A. 70.0000 70.2375 19 simplex 12.5 miscellaneous

B 70.2375 72.2875 164 outputs 12.5 land mobile (outputs to part D)

C 72.2875 72.7375 36 simplex 12.5 land mobile

D 72.7375 74.8000 164 inputs 12.5 land mobile (inputs to part B)

E 74.8000 75.2000 - simplex 12.5 aeronautical navigation

F 75.2000 77.2875 167 simplex 12.5 land mobile

G 77.2875 77.4875 16 simplex 12.5 miscellaneous

H 77.4875 79.8000 185 outputs 12.5 land mobile (outputs to part J)

I 79.8000 79.9875 15 simplex 12.5 land mobile

J 79.9875 82.3000 185 inputs 12.5 land mobile (inputs to part H)

K 82.3000 82.4875 15 simplex 12.5 land mobile

L 82.4875 83.7375 100 inputs 12.5 land mobile (inputs to part O)

M 83.7375 84.6875 76 inputs 12.5 land mobile (inputs to part P)

N 84.6875 84.9875 24 simplex 12.5 miscellaneous

O 84.9875 86.2375 100 outputs 12.5 land mobile (outputs to part L)

P 86.2375 87.1875 76 outputs 12.5 land mobile (outputs to part M)

Q 87.1875 87.5000 24 simplex 12.5 miscellaneous

VHF HIGH BAND 148 MHz to 174 MHz

The VHF high and was the second chunk of radio spectrum to undergo a change. Around the same time that the VHF mid band was reorganized, so too were the frequencies between 148 MHz and 174 MHz. The main change was the switch from the old 15 or 30 kHz channel spacing to 12.5 kHz. Both VHF bands was brought into line with international convention.

For the scanner enthusiast, it meant abandoning hard won frequency databases, to make way for all new allocations. In some areas old channels disappeared seemingly overnight, often with users reappearing many megahertz away. Of the three common land mobile bands in Australia, information on the VHF high band it perhaps the most scant. Knowing where to listen for repeater outputs and how far the inputs are away has been the bane of some monitors existence. The following VHF high band service allocations should remove any doubt.

PART LOWER UPPER CH'S USE CHBW ASSIGNMENT

A 148.0000 149.2500 50 simplex 12.5 paging service

B 149.2500 149.7500 80 output 6.25 land mobile (outputs to part H)

C 149.7500 149.9000 11 simplex 12.5 land mobile

D 149.9000 150.0500 - - - radionavigation satellite service

E 150.0500 151.3875 107 outputs 12.5 land mobile (outputs to part J)

F 151.3875 152.4875 88 simplex 12.5 miscellaneous

G 152.4875 153.8500 108 simplex 12.5 land mobile

H 153.8500 154.3500 80 inputs 6.25 land mobile (inputs to part B)

I 154.3500 154.6500 23 simplex 12.5 land mobile

J 154.6500 156.0000 107 inputs 12.5 land mobile (inputs to part E)

K 156.0000 157.4500 - various 25 maritime mobile

L 157.4500 158.2875 67 inputs 12.5 land mobile (inputs to part Q)

M 158.2875 160.6000 184 inputs 12.5 land mobile (inputs to part R)

N 160.6000 160.9750 - various 25 maritime mobile

O 160.9750 161.4750 39 simplex 12.5 land mobile

P 161.4750 162.0500 - various 25 maritime mobile

Q 162.0500 162.8875 67 outputs 12.5 land mobile (outputs to part Q)

R 162.8875 165.1875 184 outputs 12.5 land mobile (outputs to part M)

S 165.1875 168.1875 240 outputs 12.5 trunked mobile (outputs to part U)

T 168.1875 169.7875 128 simplex 12.5 land mobile

U 169.7875 172.7875 240 inputs 12.5 trunked mobile (inputs to part S)

V 172.7875 173.2875 40 simplex 12.5 land mobile

W 173.2875 174.0000 56 simplex 12.5 miscellaneous

The penultimate chapter in this months column is the very busy and I might add very popular UHF band. In commercial two way terms, a dozen UHF radios are sold for every one VHF high band, while the ratio for UHF to VHF mid band is even higher. All these radios make for some interesting monitoring.

Trying to locate a specific user amongst all that megahertz is to say the least, difficult. Hopefully the following band plan will make it just that little bit easier.

PART LOWER UPPER CH'S USE CHBW ASSIGNMENT

A 403.0000 403.9750 39 inputs 12.5 land mobile (inputs to part I)

B 404.0000 405.0000 41 inputs 12.5 point to point (inputs to part J)

C 405.0250 405.9750 39 inputs 12.5 land mobile (inputs to part K)

D 406.0000 406.1000 - - - mobile satellite service

E 406.1250 408.6125 200 inputs 12.5 trunked mobile(inputs to part M)

F 408.6500 410.5250 76 inputs 12.5 land mobile (inputs to part N)

G 410.5500 410.9625 34 simplex 12.5 land mobile

H 410.9750 412.4500 119 simplex 12.5 land mobile

I 412.4750 413.4250 39 outputs 12.5 land mobile (outputs to part A)

J 413.4500 414.4500 41 outputs 12.5 point to point (outputs to part B)

K 414.4750 415.4250 39 outputs 12.5 land mobile (outputs to part C)

L 415.4500 415.5500 5 simplex 12.5 land mobile

M 415.5750 418.0625 200 outputs 12.5 trunked mobile (outputs to part E)

N 418.1000 419.9750 76 outputs 12.5 land mobile (outputs to part F)

O 420.0000 450.0000 - - - 70 centimetre amateur service

P 450.0250 450.4750 19 simplex 12.5 land mobile

Q 450.5000 451.5000 41 inputs 12.5 point to point (inputs to part U)

R 451.51875 452.49375 79 inputs 12.5 point to multipoint (inputs to part V)

S 452.5125 453.5000 80 inputs 12.5 land mobile (inputs to part W)

T 453.5250 459.9750 259 inputs 12.5 land mobile (inputs to part X)

U 460.0000 461.0000 41 outputs 12.5 point to point (outputs to part Q)

V 461.01875 461.99375 79 outputs 12.5 point to multipoint (outputs to part

R)

W 462.0125 463.0000 80 outputs 12.5 land mobile (outputs to part S)

X 463.0250 469.4750 259 outputs 12.5 land mobile(outputs to part T)

Y 469.5000 469.9750 20 simplex 12.5 land mobile

Z 470.0000 471.2000 49 outputs 12.5 land mobile outputs to part DD)

AA 471.2250 472.2000 40 simplex 12.5 land mobile & fixed services

BB 472.2250 474.7750 103 outputs 12.5 land mobile (outputs to part FF)

CC 474.8000 475.1750 16 simplex 12.5 land mobile

DD 475.2000 476.4000 49 inputs 12.5 land mobile (inputs to part Z)

EE 476.4250 477.4000 40 - 25 UHFCB

FF 477.4250 479.9750 103 inputs 12.5 land mobile (inputs to part BB)

GG 480.0000 484.7750 192 inputs 12.5 land mobile (inputs to part II)

HH 484.8000 485.1750 16 simplex 12.5 land mobile

II 485.2000 489.9750 192 outputs 12.5 land mobile (outputs to part GG)

JJ 490.0000 494.7750 192 outputs 12.5 land mobile (outputs to part LL)

KK 494.8000 495.1750 16 simplex 12.5 land mobile

LL 495.2000 499.9750 192 inputs 12.5 land mobile (inputs to part JJ)

MM 500.0000 500.9875 80 outputs 12.5 land mobile(outputs to part RR)

NN 501.0000 504.9875 - - - reserved for spectrum licences

OO 505.0000 507.0000 161 outputs 12.5 land mobile (outputs for part TT)

PP 507.0250 509.5250 101 outputs 12.5 land mobile (outputs for part UU)

QQ 509.5500 509.9750 18 simplex 12.5 land mobile

RR 510.0000 510.9875 80 inputs 12.5 land mobile (inputs for part MM)

SS 511.0000 514.9875 - - - reserved for spectrum licences

TT 515.0000 517.0000 161 inputs 12.5 land mobile (inputs to part OO)

UU 517.0250 519.5250 101 inputs 12.5 land mobile (inputs to part PP)

VV 519.5500 519.9750 18 simplex 12.5 land mobile

It is evident from the figures listed above, that the UHF band is no only the most popular, but also the largest in terms of bandwidth. By virtue of its size, scanning or searching it can be a challenge. Knowing the inputs from the outputs and simplex from repeaters can eliminate a lot of dead scanning time. I hope it helps.

So as the complete the picture of the RF spectrum as applicable to Australia, below is a somewhat abridge version of the remaining allocations.

This list is up to and including the 800 MHz trunking bands, which are gaining in popularity as targets for monitors.

LOWER UPPER MODE CHBW ASSIGNMENT

29.700 45.000 FM 25 kHz Australian low VHF

30.000 50.000 FM 5 kHz American low VHF

51.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 0

54.000 56.000 FM 12.5 kHz Low power services

62.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 1

69.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 2

87.500 108.000 WFM 200 kHz FM broadcast band

100.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 4

107.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 5

108.000 137.000 AM 50 kHz Aviation radio

143.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 5A

180.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 6

187.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 7

194.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 8

201.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 9

214.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 10

221.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 11

225.000 400.000 AM 50 kHz Military aircraft

225.000 400.000 FM/WFM 12.5 kHz US Military satellites

532.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 28

539.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 29

546.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 30

553.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 31

560.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 32

567.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 33

574.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 34

581.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 35

609.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 39

616.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 40

623.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 41

630.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 42

637.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 43

644.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 44

651.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 45

658.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 46

665.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 47

672.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 48

679.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 49

686.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 50

693.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 51

700.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 52

707.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 53

714.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 54

721.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 55

728.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 56

735.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 57

742.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 58

749.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 59

756.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 60

763.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 61

770.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 62

777.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 63

784.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 64

791.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 65

798.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 66

805.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 67

812.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 68

819.750 WFM 7 MHZ TV channel 69

845.000 852.000 FM 200 kHz Studio to transmitter links

852.000 865.000 FM 12.5 kHz Links and low capacity services

865.000 870.000 FM 12.5 kHz Trunking radio service

Thanks Russell for supplying newcastlescan with your article. Remember, Russell writes for quality radio magazines, Please sign our Guest Book before leaving our site -

Mick & Garry

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