The San Bernardino Microwave Society, Incorporated (SBMS) was founded in 1955 as "A NON-PROFIT AMATEUR TECHNICAL ORGANIZATION DEDICATED TO THE ADVANCEMENT OF COMMUNICATIONS ABOVE 1000 Mc. (now called 1 GHz) The Society's callsign W6IFE is in memory of its original holder, Tommy Thompson, one of the founders. W6IFE Trustee and Society President is Dave Laag W6DL.
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The Society encourages and fosters mutually beneficial connections between and among radio amateurs with common interests in microwave technology and operations through sponsorship of operating events, design and construction projects, relationships with other radio amateur institutions, regulatory advocacy, infrastructure development (beacons, translators, etc.), and outreach.
Younger radio amateurs from the current era where most new radio development is above 1 GHz already may not appreciate the special place of this advocacy against the historic evolution of wireless technology, led in large part by amateur radio, over the last 100+ years. Beginning at the dawn of the 20th century at frequencies of a few hundred KHz where propagation was mostly groundwave and antennas were enormous, through "shortwaves", a few tens of MHz propagated worldwide by ionospheric refraction, and into VHF and UHF where mostly line-of-sight propagation required significant fixed support infrastructure and backbones, amateurs and commercial users developed useful capabilities side by side, the pros benefiting from avocational insights and experimentation while the amateurs benefited from commercial surplus and large scale technology development. In 1955, when the territory above 1000 MegaCycles was still a largely unexplored wasteland (except for a few highly secret military applications), the Society led amateur radio into this new spectral region, opening the allocated bands with tractable equipment projects and operational tests to determine just what the optimum use of the bands might be and how far operators could talk across them.
The emphasis since 1955 has been various forms "DXing" (that is, seeing how large a distance microwave signals can be detected and utilized for communications) using narrowband amplitude and frequency modulations and even on-off carrier keying, ("CW" using the International Morse Code) brought up from the lower frequency amateur bands. Contact tests and events are organized around activity days, contest weekends, and propagation driven opportunities. World distance records on several microwave bands, for example, are held by SBMS members operating over the Hawaii to California path during summer tropospheric ducting openings and participants have significant experience with other regional propagation paths as well. The Society also has interest in utilization of the amateur microwave allocations at higher bandwidths. For example, our regular meetings are often carried locally over the Amateur Television Network on 5.9 GHz NTSC and other frequencies, and is also distributed over a 3.4 GHz MESH network, ultimately feeding the internet.
If any of this sounds exciting to you, microwave radio frequency technology, modulation techniques, operating practices, digital and analog circuit board design and implementation, theoretical understanding of the related natural phenomena and mathematics, and a chance to experience cutting edge amateur radio operation firsthand, please come join us! Your involvement in these efforts will be most welcome!
73 and look forward to hearing from you - Courtney N5BF, 2020 SBMS President
The Society has regular meetings on the first Thursday of each month. See the News tab for meeting details.
On non-meeting Thursdays the Society has a Home-To-Home operating event in which operators test their latest microwave equipment and projects by working each other regionally from their homes (or nearby). Coordination is via the Cactus-Intertie, a private UHF linked system across the southwest which is opened for coordination of microwave contacts during sponsored events.
The Society sponsors and/or participates in numerous weekend-sized microwave operating events throughout the year where participants attempt communication on various microwave bands from mountaintops, valleys (usually roving from point to point), homes, or other fortuitous locations. Members provide each other with guidance and hints about access, techniques, and procedures. See the News tab and the Calendar for further details and links to contest information.
The Society produces a monthly newsletter and provides online connectivity via this website and an e-mail reflector. See the Services tab for current and historic information and the About tab for connectivity details.