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What are band plans?

Band plans are voluntary guidelines developed by the amateur radio community to establish best practices for frequency usage within the radio spectrum allocated to amateur radio operators. These plans help to ensure efficient and orderly use of the spectrum by promoting cooperation, minimizing interference, and organizing the allocation of specific frequencies or frequency ranges for different modes of communication, such as voice, Morse code (CW), and digital modes.

In the United States, the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) develops and maintains the band plans for amateur radio operators. These plans are not legally binding, but they are widely accepted and followed by the amateur radio community as a means of self-regulation. The ARRL band plans designate frequency ranges for various modes and activities, such as:

  • CW (Morse code) operation
  • Single-sideband (SSB) voice operation
  • Digital modes (such as RTTY, PSK31, and FT8)
  • Satellite communication
  • Amateur television (ATV)
  • Weak signal communication (such as moonbounce and meteor scatter)
  • FM repeater and simplex operation

Band plans vary depending on the specific frequency band (e.g., HF, VHF, UHF) and may also differ between countries or regions, as the allocation of amateur radio spectrum and regulatory requirements can vary. It’s essential for amateur radio operators to be familiar with the band plan for their location to ensure they operate within the accepted guidelines and avoid interfering with other users.

You can find the ARRL band plans for the United States on their website (http://www.arrl.org/band-plan). For other countries, consult the national amateur radio organization or regulatory authority responsible for managing the amateur radio spectrum.

By following band plans and adhering to the voluntary guidelines, amateur radio operators can help maintain a well-organized and efficient use of the radio spectrum, fostering a positive and cooperative operating environment for all users.

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