In several years we may be moving to just west of Charlottesville, VA (North Garden to be specific).

It looks like that is just barely west of the eastern edge of the National Radio Quiet Zone and so is in the NQRZ.

As that's a pretty good distance from the two radio telescopes in question (Green Bank, WV and Sugar Grove, WV) I'm wondering exactly how restrictive things would be in North Garden.

In particular I'm curious about what the restrictions would be for VHF/UHF and for HF.


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    $\begingroup$ FYI: They've got at least one truck at the site that is equipped with a whole lot of radio direction finding gear. If you continually emit any kind of signal that interferes with their work, they will find you. The folks at the on-site museum said* that most of the time, when the truck goes out, it's looking for somebody's new WiFi router. If you live deep enough in the zone, and you fire up a WiFi access point, they will come and offer to install wired ethernet in your home for free. [*That was something like ten years ago when I visited. I don't know if it's different today.] $\endgroup$ Mar 2 at 19:43

1 Answer 1


Here is the NRAO's page about the NRQZ. In short, for anyone more than 10 miles from Green Bank the limits aren't very restrictive, but you are subject to coordination. Coordination means that you have to submit fairly detailed information about any station you build to the NRAO, and not operate until they approve (or at least until 20 days pass without them objecting). Any changes to your station will have to be re-approved.

The rest of this is a bit of hearsay, as I haven't been through the process myself (I've visited the NRQZ, and done my research, but didn't do anything that actually required approval). But from what I understand, they're happy to receive emails, and amateur radio is generally not a major problem for them, particularly if you're on the edges of the zone and not within line-of-sight. If you give them a sketch of what you're planning (e.g. amateur frequencies, 100W SSB/CW/FSK, into such and such an antenna, located in North Garden), they will probably be able to conclude very quickly that you're no problem and that they don't need incredible detail. They should be able to guide you on the quickest way to fill out an application so that they can send you a letter allowing you to operate.

  • $\begingroup$ Wowsers, if 100 W emitters are not a problem, why do they call it "radio quiet zone*? $\endgroup$
    – sina bala
    Mar 2 at 9:49
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    $\begingroup$ @sinabala it's a graduated system, it depends how far you are from the receivers. They're looking for less than a certain received power at Green Bank, with tighter limits on the frequencies that are actually used for radio astronomy, and looser ones on other frequencies. From 100mi away, if you stick to amateur bands, don't have any nasty spurs, and don't have a big antenna on a tall tower, it's not that hard to keep under the limits. But they do the evaluation based on info you provide. $\endgroup$ Mar 2 at 15:46
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    $\begingroup$ @sinabala, The fence around the base of the Robert C. Byrd telescope has signs on it imploring visitors not to operate any kind of electronic device at all—especially, it says, no digital cameras. But while I was there, a bus* rolled up and people got off and used their cell phones and other digital devices to take pictures. Their tour guide did nothing to try to stop them. [*Diesel powered, of course. No gasoline-powered machinery is allowed any further onto the property than the visitor's parking lot because gas engines have spark plugs.] $\endgroup$ Mar 2 at 19:34
  • $\begingroup$ Using a great circle calculator I see I would probably be 60 statute miles from the Green Bank scope and 50 statute miles from the Sugar Grove scope, FWIW. $\endgroup$ Mar 4 at 0:37

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