In the world of ham radio, beacons are used to check the propagation of signals and stay connected. These make use of the calling frequencies on the VHF, UHF, MF, etc. bands to test and calibrate the transmitters and receivers.
To find out more about how they are used, read on!
Why are the calling frequencies and beacons used?
The calling frequencies are the assigned frequencies that can be used by amateurs for hooking onto the VHF and UHF bands. The high gain antennas used by the amateurs can thus be calibrated and coordinated when the devices are in the range.
You can simply imagine a calling frequency to be a channel that anyone can tune in to and communicate. These amateur radio frequencies are used for amateur radio propagation beacon. This way, an entire group could tune in to the same channel and stay connected.
While a beacon is required for navigation as it repeatedly sends signals on the calling frequencies. An antenna can catch these signals and when they are in their range and thus easily navigate through.
How does beacon and calling frequencies work?
The main purpose of a beacon and calling frequencies is to verify the working of a complete radio setup. Most of the beacons operate as a continuous waveform and indulge in transmitting the identification keys or signals which can help in navigation.
Some of the radio beacons also make use of a long dash pattern to aid in the evaluation of signal strength. The antennas receive these patterns on tuning to the right calling frequency. This way, they can determine if the entire system is properly connected or not.
Other than these, you can also find a few beacons that transmit Morse codes by applying Frequency shift keying. These digitally modulated beacons are used for specific Amateur Radio Projects or Clubs.
How to test your amateur radio setup using a beacon?
First of all, you must obtain the list of all the beacons to ensure which area you are going to test. Once you know the right calling frequency, then you should tune in to it. The amateur radio beacons transmit a CW signal of variating power levels in all the directions.
The antenna of your device will catch these signals as you enter the range of these signals. However, the place you are located at, may or may not get the transmitted signal. If the channel is open for use, only then will you be able to gain access to the signal.
If you can hear the signals, then your system is well connected and good to go. But if it is not, then probably the channel is not operational between your station and where the beacon is located.
Having complete information about the beacon operational frequencies and calling frequencies is necessary for proper communication. You must choose a beacon locator according to your use and navigation requirements.
These can help you with easier and reliable communication to stay connected even when you need them for bushwalking, camping, hiking, etc. Your group will be closely located and will be able to connect even when mobile phones don’t work.
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