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Frequency versus Wavelength

Joined
May 5, 2013
Messages
90
Location
Palmerston North, New Zealand
#1
Will there ever come a day when everyone talks frequency instead of wavelength? I'm forever having to revert to a conversion table or do maths when people talk 10 metres, 160 metres etc. Is it an age thing? I don't think so as I'm as old as an old amateur radioist (I'm not one, which you've already guessed) but when my radio asks me to tune it, I don't say eleventytwelve metres, I say 13261kHz or 156.8MHz and funnily enough it knows instinctively where to tune without a conversion formula! Why don't we all talk like this? In fact I don't know where I could enter a metre value into my receiver for it to tune to, are there any such (modern) radios?

Anyway, I know I'll get lambasted for this but guys and gals, really?

Anyway, let's have some fun with this, opinions?
 

SDRPlayer

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Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jul 22, 2016
Messages
167
Location
Victoria, Australia
#2
I like "eleventytwelve metres "..nice. Yep, it's archaic, but some folks are like that. Seems that Short wave moved on, but Amateur Radio did not. On UDXF for example, everything must be reported in kHz....Which i like. You know right where you are.
 
Joined
Feb 6, 2007
Messages
5,908
Location
175 DME, HEC 358° Radial
#5
Prcguy explained it perfectly well. We use the wavelength to describe the frequency band, and the frequency to specify the specific spot on the dial to tune to.

It's a pretty simple, non-controversial practice.
 
Joined
Dec 22, 2013
Messages
2,956
#9
Why not use wavelength more specifically to aid in tuning?

"QRM here OM, Meet me on 80.01045675 meters?"

It would be a simple firmware change in modern radios to flop from MHz to Meters.

Sent from my SM-T350 using Tapatalk
 

Token

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Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jun 18, 2010
Messages
2,006
Location
Mojave Desert, California, USA
#12
Will there ever come a day when everyone talks frequency instead of wavelength? I'm forever having to revert to a conversion table or do maths when people talk 10 metres, 160 metres etc. Is it an age thing? I don't think so as I'm as old as an old amateur radioist (I'm not one, which you've already guessed) but when my radio asks me to tune it, I don't say eleventytwelve metres, I say 13261kHz or 156.8MHz and funnily enough it knows instinctively where to tune without a conversion formula! Why don't we all talk like this? In fact I don't know where I could enter a metre value into my receiver for it to tune to, are there any such (modern) radios?
In the very early days of radio people did, indeed, specify frequency by wavelength. This was not just a ham thing, but also a commercial radio thing. If you look at something like "Radio Stations of the United States", July 1, 1916 edition (published by the Department of Commerce, Bureau of Navigation, Radio Service) every frequency is specified in wavelength. For example the Naval radio station in Great Lakes, IL, is listed on 1512 meters, which is about 198.413 kHz.

As late as 1926 the "Citizen's Radio Callbook" land stations were still listed by wavelength, vs frequency.

It helps if you understand the technology of the day, and how coarsely anyone, outside a lab, could determine frequency with the average receiver. The radios in the early days just were not calibrated (often just a 0 to 100 dial for frequency indication), and often you only had a rough idea of where your radio was tuned. Specifying in wavelength, instead of cycles per second, was perfectly adequate.

And so, frequencies, and frequency ranges, were called out in wavelength. But it has been a very long time since large numbers of people have referenced specific frequencies by wavelength, vs frequency.

Later, when radios become more precise in their frequency readout ability, people shifted to cycles per second (kilocycles per second and Megacycles per second), and later Hertz (kiloHertz and MegaHertz). But general frequency ranges, the "bands" vs precise frequencies, were still called out by wavelength as a simple shorthand. We still say things like "the 80 meter band" instead of "the authorized ham radio frequencies between 3500 kHz and 4000 kHz". The nickname, the shorthand, is simply easier when talking about the general frequency vas the specific freq. I might say "I was on 80 meters last night", but I would not, except as a joke, say "I was on 77.22008 meters last night" when I meant I was on 3885 kHz.

So yes, the source of this is from age, from history. But the practice itself is not an "age" thing. There are no hams alive today who were active on the radio during the times when specific ham radio frequencies (vs bands) were designated by wavelength.

Anyway, I know I'll get lambasted for this but guys and gals, really?


Anyway, let's have some fun with this, opinions?
Opinion? Lighten up (notice I did not include "Frances" ;) ). Today wavelength is just used as long standing, world wide, nicknames for chunks of frequencies, nothing more.


How would you designate the established and known bands? And how would any new system be better?

T!
 
Last edited:
Joined
Dec 22, 2013
Messages
2,956
#13
Interestingly, light spectrum is expressed in wavelength, probably because it is more easily measured that way.

Coincidentally, just this week I sent my 850 nm "transmitter" off for warranty repair. It was operating QRP instead of QRO! Final current was way low!

Actually it is simply an Infrared Illuminator for night vision.

Sent from my SM-T350 using Tapatalk
 
Joined
Mar 12, 2014
Messages
1,063
#18
Interestingly, light spectrum is expressed in wavelength, probably because it is more easily measured that way.

Coincidentally, just this week I sent my 850 nm "transmitter" off for warranty repair. It was operating QRP instead of QRO! Final current was way low!

Actually it is simply an Infrared Illuminator for night vision.

Sent from my SM-T350 using Tapatalk

I'm curious. What transmitter is that? I ask because that is a common frequency for multimode fiber optic transmitters.
 
Joined
May 13, 2019
Messages
14
Location
Central NC
#20
I don't think wavelength references in general will be going away. Maybe for HF as more of us boomer hams die off, but for radio spectrum overall, wavelength is still common. I think the ITU still specifies certain segments (SHF/EHF) by wavelength. For older hams, 80m, 40m, et al is a good way to understand antenna size versus something like 3.725MHz or 7.155MHz. Catch you on 23cm.
 
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