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500 Khz

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  #1  
Old 17th March 2011, 08:49
R651400 R651400 is offline  
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500 Khz

500 Khz or 500 Kc/s as I better know it.
IMO have endorsed the US proposal that "5 ton" will now be part of a new navtex system operating between 495 and 505 khz.
This should be ratified at the next World Radio Conference which I understand will be early next year in Geneva.
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  #2  
Old 17th March 2011, 09:32
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When shall we have the wake then?

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  #3  
Old 17th March 2011, 12:05
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A wake only if the QRG is completely dead?
I'm happy it will still continue to offer a service to mariners.
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  #4  
Old 17th March 2011, 16:48
Gareth Jones Gareth Jones is offline  
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Originally Posted by R651400 View Post
A wake only if the QRG is completely dead?
I'm happy it will still continue to offer a service to mariners.
Quite right - I heard somewhere that amateurs wanted to use it - nothing against amateurs, but it didn't seem right to me.
In its day it was the most important maritime frequency and it would be denigrating to use it for chit-chat. (even though, in distant parts, some of us well may have!).
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Old 17th March 2011, 18:35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Jones View Post
Quite right - I heard somewhere that amateurs wanted to use it - nothing against amateurs, but it didn't seem right to me.
In its day it was the most important maritime frequency and it would be denigrating to use it for chit-chat. (even though, in distant parts, some of us well may have!).
They would have kept it as a Morse frequency though.
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  #6  
Old 17th March 2011, 20:12
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Have a look at the News News tag at

http://www.fortperchrockmarineradiomuseum.co.uk

It's all there.

David
+
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  #7  
Old 18th March 2011, 16:39
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They would have kept it as a Morse frequency though.
Yes - my feelings exactly.

It is sad that the frequency, that meant so much to all of us and one that we spent hours listening to manual signals on, should be given over to a non- morse, automated printer system.

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  #8  
Old 20th March 2011, 11:56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Jones View Post
In its day it was the most important maritime frequency and it would be denigrating to use it for chit-chat. (even though, in distant parts, some of us well may have!).
Mmmmmm... I don't think the amateurs have been using it for chit chat...

http://www.fortperchrockmarineradiom...k/page%207.htm

I think the amateurs on 500 have a good sense of history....
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  #9  
Old 20th March 2011, 13:48
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Surely it is better that the frequency is retained within the maritime field for the broadcast of essential safety information than for non-safety related purposes - perhaps absorbed by the broadcasters for yet another AM music (/) channel?

The frequency spectrum is constantly under pressure from commercial and other interests and at every ITU World Administrative Radio Conference, there is immense pressure on governments to agree to a reduction in the frequence allocations for maritime use. Remember that all governments are represented there and each has one vote, even though the majority of countries have no ships at all. Of the 200-odd members, how many do you think are interested in the running of merchant ships?
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  #10  
Old 21st March 2011, 09:02
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Somewhere else I posted that 500 khz may be chosen as an international heritage frequency for radio amateurs and I think it was Troppo who was more au fait on the situation replied it was going to be taken over by Navtex.
As a licenced amateur I would have been equally as happy for 500 to have become part of the the international radio amateur band plan.
Interest in LF radio is high and there have been temporary licences issued for 500 khz.
Exceptionally the Spanish put out a 500 khz beacon EA3WX which was heard all over Europe.
.
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  #11  
Old 21st March 2011, 22:24
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Problem was the amateurs were not well organised enough...
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  #12  
Old 22nd March 2011, 06:25
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Well it's too late now Troppo but amateur v commercial and a US outfit to boot did they ever have a chance?
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  #13  
Old 22nd March 2011, 06:45
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No - amateurs never had a chance.

IMO was always going to claim it - as they should.

At least 5 ton will remain maritime.

Rgds
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  #14  
Old 31st March 2011, 16:49
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I think the best thing to do is to have a permanent silence period on 500 kHz in honour of all those seafarers who died at sea.

Just my thoughts.

John McKay (Mayday).
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  #15  
Old 1st April 2011, 10:00
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That is a nice thought, Mayday.
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  #16  
Old 1st April 2011, 11:04
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I agree with all the sentiments expressed here, but as someone on the inside, let me tell you that NO ONE at IMO gives a stuff about the heritage value of 500.

Do not forget that IMO were the bastards who merrily presided over the demise of our profession. The much touted GMDSS is a mess. Principally because ships do not carry dedicated communicators.

Alas, 500 would have never been made a heritage freq, despite all the good work of ex-R/O's.

Sad, but true.

So, at least 500 remains as a safety freq for the maritime service.
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  #17  
Old 1st April 2011, 20:16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Troppo View Post
So, at least 500 remains as a safety freq for the maritime service.
Frequencies are worth big bucks these days and at every opportunity those with the money (broadcasters and cellular mobile telephone services) try to obtain a bigger share. The only protection that any of the less profitable services have is by designating frequencies for safety and distress communications. Even then they have to provide extensive evidence that the uses that the frequencies are put to cannot be achieved in any other way.

Amateurs are well down at the bottom of the heap (just) below even the lowly maritime services. So if 500 kHz had not been assigned by the ITU to a safety-related maritime service such as Navtex or DSC, it would have been re-assigned not to the amateurs but to some other service with money to spend. Remember that few of the 200 or so countries that make up the ITU (the organisation that allocates frequencies - not the IMO) have any active involvement with merchant shipping. Aeronautical comms (they all have airports and nobody wants a 747 dropping out of the sky because of lack of available navaids or safety cmms), broadcasting and cellphones are in every country so pinching lumps of frequency spectrum for those purposes gets all their votes.

Rejoice that it is still in the maritiime community and will continue to make a contribution to safety.
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  #18  
Old 1st April 2011, 21:38
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500 khz is only remembered by a dwindling group of former Marine Radio folk which will be non-existent in about three decades max, so, realistically (not like me!), what would be the point of making a memorial of a silent frequency?

Getting into range of that 500 kcs cacaphony in the Channel was a good sign that you were nearly home, but ... what a racket!

There is already a generation of seafarers who have never sailed with an R/O, maybe I could get myself designated a "heritage site".

John T.

PS My theory is fading fast, but something tells me that 500 kcs wouldn't be much use for mobile phones.
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  #19  
Old 1st April 2011, 22:57
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Originally Posted by trotterdotpom View Post
PS My theory is fading fast, but something tells me that 500 kcs wouldn't be much use for mobile phones.
No, but some of the frequency bands allocated for marine radar and marine satellite communications have been targeted for some years now. The MF W/T band is a target for aerobeacons and other navaids, the MF R/T band for the broadcasters. It is only a matter of time.
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  #20  
Old 2nd April 2011, 19:24
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Thanks to everyone who contributed to this thread.
I think t.p's comments in #18 realistically have hit the nail on the head.
Thirty years from now I wonder how many of us will be around to tell our grand or great-grandchildren what a silence period or 500 kc/s was and more to the point will they actually be interested?
I have my doubts!
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  #21  
Old 3rd April 2011, 07:06
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I guess it's appropriate that 500kc/s should be used for Navtex. Unfortunately, it was the failure by a few R/Os to copy Safety (TTT) nav warnings after the old silence periods that led to the famous 1970s disasters when ships ran full speed into wrecks in the English Channel that led to the introduction of Navtex.
Now Navtex is an integral part of GMDSS. Of course it can also be ignored by the navigation watch officers. But I have noticed that most ships I board in the course of my job have a system for checking and filing the print-outs. They can never complain they didn't get the warnings.
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Old 3rd April 2011, 08:34
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"...it was the failure by a few R/Os to copy Safety (TTT) nav warnings after the old silence periods that led to the famous 1970s disasters when ships ran full speed into wrecks in the English Channel that led to the introduction of Navtex."

Huh? I never hear that one before.

As far as I'm aware, Navtex didn't come out even experimentally until about 1990, so it was a pretty slow response.

My only experience of Navtex had reems of paper being spewed out giving warnings for the Atlantic to ships in the Pacific. It all ended up in the rosie.Hope they sorted that out!

John T.
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  #23  
Old 3rd April 2011, 10:07
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trotterdotpom View Post
"...it was the failure by a few R/Os to copy Safety (TTT) nav warnings after the old silence periods that led to the famous 1970s disasters when ships ran full speed into wrecks in the English Channel that led to the introduction of Navtex."

Huh? I never hear that one before.
Well they say that all life is a learning experience, John

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Originally Posted by trotterdotpom View Post
As far as I'm aware, Navtex didn't come out even experimentally until about 1990, so it was a pretty slow response.
Slow is the normal operating mode for international organisations such as the ITU and IMO - it is one of the downsides of democracy. If you ask a couple of hundred countries (or people) to agree on the best way to do something, it takes time before there is agreement and consensus on how to proceed.

However the Scandinavian countries (led by Sweden) had a system up and running in the late 1970s and the UK (not always an early-adopter) ran an "experimental" station at Cullercoats at the beginning of the 1980s. This was declared permanent in 1983 and the service was expanded adding stations at Portpatrick and Lands End (later moved to Niton to improve coverage).

During the 1980s, Navtex was adopted by IMO as part of the FGMDSS and the service was introduced in countries outside Western Europe. The first NAVTEX Manual was issued by IMO in 1988 (and has been reissued at intervals of 5-7 years since - it is currently in its 4th Edition) and the carriage of NAVTEX receivers was made mandatory for ships over 300 tons from 1993. Which is probably when you first came across it on FOC vessels.

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Originally Posted by trotterdotpom View Post
My only experience of Navtex had reems of paper being spewed out giving warnings for the Atlantic to ships in the Pacific. It all ended up in the rosie.Hope they sorted that out! John T.
As always the tool is only as good as its user. All the NAVTEX receivers that I encountered had a facility (demanded by the IMO and CCIR recommendations/ specifications) to exclude messages - other than distress-related messages - from any stations. So if you were in the Baltic and had no interest in broadcasts from Iceland, you simply selected Iceland as a station to be ignored. Of course if no one bothered to do that, you got a lot of unwanted bumf, especially at night when the range of 518 kHz can be significant.

Initially there were problems because many of the early stations transmitted at far higher powers than were necessary to provide the coverage area that they were serving. They were established by coast station engineers who were familiar with the power used by their morse or R/T transmitters and who did not at first appreciate that on a dedicated (interference-free) frequency using SITOR they could cover their area with low-power transmissions. Iceland was one such atation whose coastal nav warnings could be received over almost the entire North Atlantic until they could be persuaded to reduce power.

Democracy and international independence played a part too. Although IMO agreements affected what happened aboard ships, there was (is) no such vehicle for what happens at the shore end. So if, for example, Gadaffi wanted to put a station up that enabled broadcasts to be made (at any time he chose) from Libya and which could be received across the entire Med, into the Baltic and along the West African coast, there was nothing to stop him. Eventually a NAVTEX co-ordinating panel was established and by negotiation and persuasion, countries with overlapping transmissions arranged such things as transmitter powers and times of broadcasts so that they complemented each other to provide a sensible service.

But it took time and there is still no requirement that countries must provde continuous coverage along their coastlines - oh for a benign dicator on occasions.

NAVTEX was a creation of its time. When it was started in the mid-1970s, there was no maritime satellite service and no other means of putting safety information aboard ships outside the 8 hours a day that there was an R/O on watch. Today a far better equivalent is available via satellite but such resources did not exist almost 40 years ago. SITOR was available and in use at sea for commercial communications - a little lateral thinking within the Swedish PTT saw it as a means of putting safety information aboard Swedish ships (which were provided with automated radiotelex facilities - Maritex). And NAVTEX was born. Like the rest of us it may now be a little past its sell-by date but when introduced, there was nothing better available.

Had there not been so much opposition to INMARSAT from certain IMO member countries, the SafetyNET service might have replaced NAVTEX within the GMDSS. But there we go again - democracy and politics.
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Last edited by Ron Stringer; 3rd April 2011 at 10:20..
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  #24  
Old 3rd April 2011, 11:10
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I came Downunder in 1980 so wasn't aware of most of that. What a good job they got it sorted out fairly soon after it was needed.

Actually, I think my comments about Navtex were in error, the warnings that came out covering unwanted areas probably came out of the Sat C. There was no way of stopping them and consequently they were largely ignored. Luckily, at that stage, I was still there to get proper navigational warnings from other humans.

I'm not sure when they got Navtex going in Australia, but I suppose they did.

John T.
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  #25  
Old 4th April 2011, 03:16
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Australia is an A3 Sea Area.

No MF NAVTEX.

Coastal "NAVTEX" warnings are delivered over Inmarsat C EGC.
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