AM Revitalization Idea.

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jthorusen
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AM Revitalization Idea.

Post by jthorusen »

Here is my idea for revitalization of the AM band.... let the flames begin! :D



Here are some thoughts on how to reorganize / revitalize the AM band. As has been pointed out before, content is critical. Unfortunately, content is hard to come by and even harder to commercialize. Since AM seems to be dying on the vine anyway, I propose that the AM broadcast service be reorganized along the following lines. These are only basic thoughts; someone would have to do some research to make sure the package is self-consistent and logical before being presented to the FCC as an NPRM. Some people might add practical to the requirements, but I submit that we won’t know the practicality until we try it.

Here goes:

I. Split the AM band into two segments: 1000 KHz and up 990 KHz and down. With the exception of 50 KW class A stations with large antenna arrays (such as KFI, for example), all commercial broadcasters wishing to remain on AM must re-locate to 1000 KHz and above. The remaining high power large stations will be protected from class H stations as defined below. However, class H stations may be permitted to share the frequency of a class A station if sufficient geographical separation exists such that another class A station in that location could be licensed on the same frequency.

II. Create a new class of license for the portion of the band 990 KHz and below. Let’s call it class H for “Hobby” broadcasting.

A. Hobby broadcasters would be prohibited from receiving payment for airing any programming and must not air any commercial advertising with the exception of vintage advertising which would be found embedded in classical radio programs from the 1950’s and earlier or likely to be associated with such programming.

B. Hobby broadcasters need not satisfy any specific service contours. Protection will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

1. Class H stations shall be limited to a maximum of 250 watts carrier power daytime and 50 watts night.
2. Class H stations may not employ asymmetrical modulation and will be limited to 7.5 KHz audio bandwidth.
3. Class H stations may employ any antenna system that will fit on the licensee’s property provided that no part of the antenna system or its support structure shall exceed fifty feet above the highest terrain on the licensee’s property and that the provisions of the regulations for protecting the public against excessive exposure to RF radiation are complied with.
4. Class H stations shall conform to the requirements for all other classes of AM broadcast stations regarding frequency stability, purity of emissions, etc.
5. Class H stations shall make annual measurements of the signal so as to prove the spectral purity and other technical requirements of the emissions except that such measurements may be made with a sense antenna located on the transmitter site; remote measurements shall not be required.
6. Class H stations exceeding 10 watts carrier power shall be required to comply with EAS requirements except that weekly tests shall not be required.
7. Measurements of a class H station’s service contour shall only be required when another class H station requests the same frequency in such proximity to the first station that interference may be reasonably supposed to be likely. In such cases, all costs of contour measurement shall be born by the entity applying for the new class H license. The results of such measurements shall be made public and reported to the FCC for determination of grant.

C. Class H stations shall be bound by all FCC regulations regarding content concerning the transmission of indecent or profane language, etc. In case of repeated and egregious violations of FCC rules and regulations, the FCC shall have the power to confiscate not only equipment but also the property on which the class H station is located.

D. Class H stations may be licensed to an individual or a 501.C.3 non-profit corporation. All licensees must be independent of and not controlled by any other corporation or organization. No other corporation may hold a seat on the board of the licensee corporation and no member of the board or individual licensee may be a member of any other corporate board of any sort or hold any position with any entity engaged in broadcasting. All licensees must own the station property (location of transmitter and antenna). No class H station may air programming that is of specific benefit or interest to any other entity except the class H station. Exception: A class H station may be licensed to a recognized museum and may carry content associated with that museum and its exhibits. In the event that such a museum requests a class H license, the antenna and transmitter facilities must be co-located with the museum proper.

E. The FCC may charge a reasonable fee for the establishment of a class H license to defer its expenses in regards to such licensing process. In no case is such a fee to exceed $250.00. The FCC may charge a reasonable fee for renewal of a class H license, but in no case shall such a renewal fee exceed 10% of the fee charged to establish the license in the first place.

That ought to get some variety into the AM band!

Regards,
James K. (Jim) Thorusen
KB6GM
Central Coast Electronics
www.centcoast.com
NW Oregon Consulting Bdcst Eng.

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Deep Thought
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Re: The Looming Engineering Age Crisis

Post by Deep Thought »

You're forgetting that there are international agreements in place which will effectively stop any such changes, especially for class-A stations. Also, if you're going to create a 'hobby' class, put it in the upper part of the band where a reasonable antenna isn't out of reach.

This should probably be moved to the AM forum.
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Re: The Looming Engineering Age Crisis

Post by NECRAT »

Deep Thought wrote:
Mon Jan 20, 2020 2:23 pm

This should probably be moved to the AM forum.
Agreed, and it has been done.
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Bill DeFelice
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Re: AM Revitalization Idea.

Post by Bill DeFelice »

If I recall, I believe Jim was kind enough to share his thoughts in the past on my Part 15 radio forum, HobbyBroadcaster.net. Something I've learned over time is that many think they don't need to comply with Part 15 regs and some of the very same would likely cause a mess on the AM band if they were granted any real, reasonable RF power. My site has a mix of folks currently or previously in the broadcast biz, true radio and electronics hobbyists and every so often those who attempt to legitimize their agenda of non-compliant operation. It makes me wonder just how many would just try to get away with something if they aren't monitored or policed?

I believe New Zealand has a hobby class on either end of the FM band and I've heard it's a hot mess. I'd venture to guess we'd have a mix of law abiding and wild rogue operators with a hobby-class service. While I would love to see a legal way to provide true, neighborhood coverage I think the FCC has a real concern. Of course, with prohibiting any sort of method to pay for the station (i.e., no commercials, grant mentions, etc.,) we may end up with the same mess we have on LPFM where some are simply toys for those who have money and have formed a 501c3.

Edited for typos only
Last edited by Bill DeFelice on Wed Jan 22, 2020 4:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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jthorusen
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Re: AM Revitalization Idea.

Post by jthorusen »

I did sort of address Bill's concerns in the initial draft. However, the remedy was sort of buried in the text. Here are the relevant provisions:
All licensees must own the station property (location of transmitter and antenna).

In case of repeated and egregious violations of FCC rules and regulations, the FCC shall have the power to confiscate not only equipment but also the property on which the class H station is located.
So.... anyone with a license stands to lose his home if he doesn't obey the rules and regs. We all know how much law enforcement loves asset forfeiture laws.... selling off some real estate at auction might give the FCC enough funds to chase down the noise polluters.

Of course, there would be nothing to stop anyone from setting up a pirate station... but we have that problem now. It remains to be seen whether or not the "Pirate Act" will solve the problem.

My proposed changes just protect the current part 15 hobbyist from falling afoul of said "Pirate Act"... and will liven up the AM band for local listeners.

To answer one other criticism, I chose the bottom end of the band for the very reason that it WOULD be less efficient with a compromise antenna.... the idea is to limit the coverage area to a few blocks radius... or perhaps coverage of a small town.... not to replace the coverage possible to a "real" AM station.

I'm sure nothing like this will ever happen, but it sure would be nice to fire up the old Atwater-Kent and hear an episode of "The Shadow" or "Burns and Allen".... especially if the guy going to all the trouble to put it on the air is a few blocks down the street, so I can listen without having to build all the gear myself. (Color me lazy.)

Regards,
James K. (Jim) Thorusen
KB6GM
Central Coast Electronics
www.centcoast.com
NW Oregon Consulting Bdcst Eng.

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Re: AM Revitalization Idea.

Post by R. Fry »

jthorusen wrote:
Tue Jan 21, 2020 11:09 pm
... To answer one other criticism, I chose the bottom end of the band for the very reason that it WOULD be less efficient with a compromise antenna.... the idea is to limit the coverage area to a few blocks radius... or perhaps coverage of a small town.... not to replace the coverage possible to a "real" AM station.
RE this clip from the quote above: "the idea is to limit the coverage area to a few blocks radius..."

Just to note that useful coverage areas as large as a small town are practical/possible from unlicensed Part 15 AM systems fully compliant with FCC §15.219, even now. The graphic below shows the details.

Image

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jthorusen
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Re: AM Revitalization Idea.

Post by jthorusen »

Well.... that's not the way I read 47CFR15.219..... If you put the transmitter at the base of the vertical monopole, you can have ONE ground radial at 1.5 meters and the vertical monopole at 1.5 meters. With the Pirate Act becoming law, you do not want to leave ANY grounds for the FCC to decide that you are not in compliance with part 15. Add in the fact that one of the nagging problems with current AM is the proliferation of noise pollution, and I think you will find that most part 15 guys have trouble reaching all the radios in their own home.

Anyway, this whole idea is fantasyland.... but I predict that the continuing declining revenues, cost of real estate, cost of tower maintenance, etc. will drive most AM stations off the air before too long. The FCC will then have to decide what to do with what is essentially useless spectrum. My idea might fly then.... but probably not. It would be too much fun. :wink:

Regards,
James K. (Jim) Thorusen
KB6GM
Central Coast Electronics
www.centcoast.com
NW Oregon Consulting Bdcst Eng.

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Deep Thought
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Re: AM Revitalization Idea.

Post by Deep Thought »

jthorusen wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 4:57 pm
you can have ONE ground radial at 1.5 meters
The lead to the ground should be as short as possible to maximize the radiating element. Some have tried to skate with a rooftop mount which then effectively has a 20-30 foot "ground lead" which in reality is the radiating element.

Strictly speaking, the FCC does not concern itself with what is *in* the ground, only how long the wire is you use to connect the transmitter to it.
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Re: AM Revitalization Idea.

Post by COMMENG »

For comparison, I had an Experimental Station License for On-Air testing of an emergency/backup AM transmitter I was designing and constructing.

I was authorized by the FCC to transmit on 1650-1710 kHz with a power of 9.5 W (ERP) with emission type of course being 40K0A3E.

The antenna was a base-loaded 43' vertical with 15 buried radials and a tuner at the transmitter location.

During one test on 1710 kHz the signal was heard 37 miles away on a car radio during the day.

So comparatively speaking, it would seem that for small communities 50 Watts ERP on the lower end of the band would be sufficient with a folded unipole of 50 feet using a proper matching system.

So I think Mr. jthorusen's ideas have some merit, especially in the area of diversity of content. One caveat it that I would only limit the audio to 10 kHz with a sharp roll-off starting at 9.7 kHz as is the current case, especially if we assume that a high percentage of music will be transmitted.

COMMENG

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