The global 6 m beacon network
From the IARU Region 1 VHF Managers Handbook:
"11.3 Synchronised 50 MHz Beacon Project (Varna 2014)
The 2011 IARU Region-1 General Conference in Sun City agreed to a new Synchronised Beacon Project (SBP) as part of its revisions to the 50 MHz band plan. This required the existing beacons to migrate by August 2014 to 50.4-50.5 MHz in order to leave space for the new system at the bottom of the 50MHz band. As agreed at the Vienna Interim meeting in 2013, the basic parameters for beacons in the SBP are 1 kHz frequency spacing, 1 minute CW/MGM and a 4 minute repeat period.
At the 2014 IARU Region-1 General Conference in Varna 2014, the migration of Region-1 50 MHz beacons was reviewed and noted as progressing (with good propagation reports), but not yet achieved completely. The deadline for migration of the remainder was extended to 31 December 2015, noting that the default for QSY is usually +400 kHz unless a specific request is sent to the IARU Region 1 beacon coordinator. Furthermore it was also agreed that:-
Member Societies are invited to participate in the pilot programme for the SBP. The paper VA14_C5_14 will be used as an implementation guide and an initial pilot scheme demonstration. The societies are invited to consider the best locations for SBP (e.g. an existing site or new strategic site). Region 2 and Region 3 will be informed of progress should they wish to start implementing their own beacon multiplexes.
In addition, opportunities for a 50 MHz space-borne receiver should also be sought for monitoring both standard beacons and the SBP. This will enable assessments of propagation, band usage; support for further research; and support potential future frequency allocation requests."
Each IARU region is allocated a 10 kHz segment that is divided into ten 1 kHz segments for the SBP.
There are five intervals named 0, 1, 2, 3 and 4 in the SBP.
Each interval is one minute long.
The transmission mode and sequence for the SBP is PI4 + CW + carrier lasting exactly one minute.
Tuning into a SBP PI4 + CW + carrier signal is just like tuning into a classic CW beacon. The receiver must be set to CW in the upper side band or set to USB. Then tune 800 Hz below the nominal frequency to receive the carrier with an 800 Hz beat tone in the loudspeaker, e.g. nominal frequency is 50,005 MHz then tune to 50.004.2 USB on most radios. Then all the tones of the PI4 + CW + carrier sequence will be spot on. Please NEVER mix the term frequency and USB as it only leads to confusion. Frequency is the number of cycles per second of a generated signal. "USB" or "dial" is just something on a box.
The network planning is currently rather loose but Murray, G6JYB, should be consulted prior to putting a SBP beacon on the air.
A SBP beacon typically transmits 25 W to an omni directional antenna.
The legal issues of a beacon is purely a national issue that has to be addressed with local telecoms regulator. However, a SBP beacon shall be coordinated and part of the overall network plan both to maximize the outcome of the network but also to avoid rouge and unreliable beacons from disturbing and diluting the value of network.
A beacon that take part in the SBP but in the remainder of the time transmit on its normally allocated frequency should sign CALL/S when transmitting on the SBP frequency. This is to have unique entries in databases vs frequency.
The short form for a specific SBP beacon frequency and interval is SBP kHz part of the frequency/interval, e.g. SBP 5/4 or SBP 005/4.
For the actual status of each beacon please visit its homepage or contact the relevant beacon manager.
The Next Generation Beacons platform can be used for a SBP beacon. When not transmitting on the SBP frequency it can transmit on any other frequency from the 137 kHz to 1,3 GHz.
Bo, OZ2M, www.rudius.net/oz2m