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Author Topic: How does one go about setting up a Beacon?  (Read 1608 times)
K3NRX
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« on: August 17, 2007, 07:23:46 AM »


I am interested at some point in putting on the air a 10 meter 25 watt beacon. Other than a radio, antenna, and some kind of automated controller, what else is needed?  And what kind of controllers do these beacons use?  Also, is there some kind of special license that needs to be applied for for a beacon operation?...i.e. do I have to go thru the usual form 610 channels to get this off the ground?Huh  

Vince P
KA3NRX

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WB2WIK
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« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2007, 08:21:28 AM »

I've put beacons on the air over the years.  It's not complicated.

A CW transmitter and antenna are obvious.  Because most beacons are on the air 24/7 they are usually operated at reduced power to prevent overheating and premature failure, or if they're homebrewed, then they're designed for continuous duty.  It is important that the transmitter is stable and does not produce chirps or clicks when keyed.  When choosing a frequency it is best to study the beacon list and pick an appropriate frequency, preferably one that's not already in use anywhere.

I'd always recommend putting a beacon up only where another beacon on the same band isn't already located: There's no reasons to have two 10m beacons in the same county or general geographic area.

No special beacon license is required, and no special application is needed.

Part 97 contains all the restrictions (regulations) you need to know to operate a beacon lawfully in the U.S.

The controller can be as simple as a memory keyer programmed for continuous loop operation.  A "better" controller would be one that can be remote controlled via phone line, internet or a VHF-UHF link so the owner/operator can turn it on or off, possibly change power levels, change the message sent or other features from a remote location.  Most "repeater" controllers have this functionality.

WB2WIK/6
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KE3WD
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« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2007, 10:47:17 AM »

The lowly little Basic Stamp can be used as a Beacon Controller, also.  

Google may turn up some published stuff on that.  

CB transceiver can be turned into a 10 meter beacon if you are skilled enough to get in there and key from the driver or final (Don't attempt to key from PTT as the various circuits that are shared will have timing probs and generate atrocious keyclicks).  


KE3WD
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2007, 10:58:03 AM »

10m beacon list:

http://www.ten-ten.org/beacons.html

I'd say if there's already one operating full time within 100-150 miles of your location, to put up another one seems senseless unless yours does something special the other ones don't.

One "special" feature that's very slick is to have a "smart" beacon that while it's resting, receives on its own frequency, looking for responses.  If a response is received, it alerts the beacon operator so an immediate contact might ensue.
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K3NRX
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« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2007, 11:39:58 AM »

I'd say if there's already one operating full time within 100-150 miles of your location, to put up another one seems senseless unless yours does something special the other ones don't.

REPLY: Judging by this list, it appears that is not the case, so a Beacon coming out Pittburgh would be feasable.  Hey thanks for the tid bits guys! I appreciate it....

Vince P
KA3NRX

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N2VWW
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« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2007, 09:41:50 PM »

How many beacons do we need? There is already one in WATTSBURG, PA., that is only maybe 120 miles from you, as the crow flies.

Check this link for beacons in Penn. and Ohio.

http://www.qsl.net/wj5o/bcn.htm

Gary n2vww
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ONAIR
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« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2007, 11:19:55 PM »

  Too many beacons just increase our dependence on fossil fuels! What ever happened to just listening over the air for distant hams signals?  Let the other ops be your beacons!
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KE3WD
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« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2007, 09:12:50 AM »

>>a Beacon coming out Pittburgh would be feasable<<

Go for it, Vince, I had to pull mine down when I moved from Pittsburgh to Portsmouth, VA to run the bidness down here.  A "temporary" move going on six years now...

Contact Dave at the Greater Pittsburgh VHF Society (the six-ten repeater) if you need the assistance of a knowledgeable ten meter guy.  Tell him Mac sent you.

http://136.142.87.251/gpvhfs/

Dave built and maintains our ten meter repeater link up there, among many other things he does.  Matter of fact, I'm still the trustee for the 440 side, from this distance.  Gives me a reason to visit home I guess.  

If you are a club member -- or join -- that would be a good thing.  


KE3WD
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K3NRX
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« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2007, 10:14:45 AM »

What ever happened to just listening over the air for distant hams signals? Let the other ops be your beacons!

REPLY: That would be perfectly fine IF there were other ops on the bands when conditions are in.  But how do we know they are in??? DUH! Gee George, I dunno, BEACONS maybe???.....

How many beacons do we need?  

REPLY: Why is this a big deal? And Wattsburg PA is way up near the NY state line.  Pittsburgh should have a Beacon.

Hey Mac, if you are refering to Dave N3BJA, I know him!  have for over 20 years.  Havn't spoken to him in a while, but I see him at the hamfests. Thanks for the tid bit!  This is project that won't happen for a while because I need to buy a new car first and foremost, but soon after, we will look into it!

VP
KA3NRX
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KE3WD
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« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2007, 06:19:10 PM »

Yup, N3BJA, should have mentioned his call, sorry.  


Tell 'em KE3WD said Hi!


--Mac
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ONAIR
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« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2007, 12:06:18 AM »

   KA3NRX...   Well maybe if we all started calling CQ more often, we could become our own beacons!  Rather listen to a distant signal from a living person than from an automated circuit anyday!
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KE3WD
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« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2007, 09:40:43 AM »

Beacons serve a real purpose.  

You may not understand, but a ham in a distant part of the world who logs your beacon does.  


KE3WD
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2007, 02:05:01 PM »

I like beacons!  I'm glad they're around, and I do use them as indicators of band conditions on 6m and on 10m, both of which are prone to spot openings that almost nobody can predict and which have nothing to do with the m.u.f.

I only caution that since too many cooks can spoil the broth, too many beacons can be confusing.  We're running out of beacon frequencies because there are so many already, and once beacons have to start sharing frequencies (within the same continent, especially) it's getting kind of silly.

What I'd LOVE to see is more "smart" beacons.  I've thought many times I'd put up a beacon myself, a dual bander for 6m and 10m at the same site, but not until I can build a smart controller which alerts me (the owner/operator of the beacons) when the band's open because someone is trying to call my beacon.  I think that's a very neat feature and one which I would not be without.  I'm working on it...

WB2WIK/6
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