Amateur Radio Weekly – Issue 340

Amateur Radio Weekly

Are hackers the future of Amateur Radio?
Shaking off an image of being the exclusive preserve of old men with shiny radios talking about old times remains a challenge.

Amateur Radio Newsline announces Young Ham of the Year
Grace has been a regular presenter at the Youth Forum at Dayton Hamvention.
Amateur Radio Daily

International Dog Day special event
Calling attention to the urgent needs of abandoned, abused, neglected and homeless dogs by operating special event stations in Europe and the US.
International Dog Day

Understanding repeater speak
All that jargon that Hams use can seem like a foreign language to those who have had little exposure to Amateur Radio.

Ham Radio call signs discovered during university renovation
Alumni recall making infinite connections around the world.
Lehigh University

FCC hits 13 landlords in NYC metro area with pirate letters
Enforcement sweeps allege illegal FM broadcasts within the last year.

Review of the RFNM software defined radio
It is capable of wide bandwidth – up to 153.6 MHz.

Medium-wave sunset in Europe
European medium-wave transmitters are going silent.


Cheap FT-857d display replacement
George replaces a defective FT-857d display with an economical new option.
Amateurlogic TV

Return from whiskey two-seven with 2M FM radio operations
Aeronautical 2m simplex.

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Band use by Canadian Amateurs

Results from the national RAC Survey 2021

The 2021 RAC Survey asked about the use of frequency band segments and hours per month devoted to each one. This identifies where Canadian amateur operators transmit to complement what type of communications they reported (see Full Report). The bands used and the amount of time per month reported by survey participants provide the contours of these behaviors in Canada. They also provide RAC with demonstrable data for the Canadian regulator as to how these frequency allocations are being utilized by the amateur radio service in that country.

I begin with the share of hams reporting the bands and band ranges they use in a typical month (see Figure 1). The results are fairly clear, reflecting no surprise at the dominant bands, but give empirical contours to those used by smaller segments of Canadian hams.

This chart shows that two-meters is the common band for over 90 percent of Canadian amateurs. The HF bands, from 80-10 meters, are second at over 80 percent. The UHF band of 430 MHz is used by two-thirds (67%). These three bands are used in a typical month by a majority of hams in Canada. They are followed by the Magic Band of six-meters (46%) at less than one-half. The Top Band, 160 meters, is used by almost a third (30%) of these hams. The 220 MHz band captures about one-fifth of Canada’s operators. Above this frequency, are the microwave allocations, including Super HF at above 3 Ghz. None reach a tenth in reported usage and systematically decline as the frequency goes higher. It is likely that the need to homebrew much of the equipment to operate in these frequencies is an inhibitor for their use. This may change in the future as commercial manufacturers get into this market segment.

Is 2 Meters or HF King of the Bands?

Operating Patterns Among Canadian Amateurs:
Results from the RAC Survey 2021
Frank M. Howell, PhD K4FMH

A total of 194,174 hours per month were reported by Canadian amateurs to have been used over 15 bands during 2021. The average is 93 with an estimated standard error of 5.4 hours. The variation in these reported hours is large, with a standard deviation of 249! (This is not unusual in a highly skewed distribution.) The median is 34 hours per month, or just over an hour a day. This means that one-half spend more with the other half in the survey reporting less. These statistics are only for hams reporting any hours of usage per month (a total of 121 respondents reported zero hours). This demonstrates that many operators are active, perhaps one hour per day or so while a smaller segment report spending vast amounts of time on one or more of these bands.

These summaries should be qualified with a small anomaly. One element of modern amateur operations is “always-on” monitoring receivers or beacons. These could be APRS on 2-meters, transmit beacons on other bands, scanning VHF bands or above, and a host of others. The survey asked an open-ended question about hours of use on a given frequency band. Some respondents added text statements when they replied with 720 hours per month (24 hours x 30 days) to the effect that beacons or other “always-on” transmitters or (scanning) receivers were used in their shack on that band segment. Some of the extreme hours reported per month likely reflect these “always-on” monitoring activities.

A total of 194,174 hours per month were reported by Canadian amateurs to have been used over 15 bands during 2021.

Operating Patterns Among Canadian Amateurs:
Results from the RAC Survey 2021

Frank M. Howell, PhD K4FMH

These patterns can be seen in Figure 2, containing two box plots of total hours reported. On the left, the number of hours is concentrated around the median (represented by the dark line in the middle of the “box”) of about 34 but a share of respondents responded to the question with increasingly larger totals. The 3,000-hour total clearly reflects multiple radios in operation at the same time by a given operator in the survey. Many of those reporting less than this highest value also fit into this operating style. The complementary box plot (right) illustrates how the bulk of hams vary in hours of operation on all bands. This is expressed in a log transformation of total hours. This graph of the log (LN) of hours reported shows the distribution in a way that is not dominated by the extreme high values reported in the survey. This set of graphs show that there is a small portion of Canadian amateurs who report large numbers of hours on multiple band segments whereas the high majority say they operate around the median of 34 hours or so.

However, the more representative pattern of behavior is a spread of hours that varies by band. To best understand these patterns, we consider the “time portfolio” that a ham might allocate to the hobby. The median would suggest about an hour a day (which may be bundled to several on a weekend but none on a few week days). What share of time in the total number of hours that amateurs report spending each month is allocated to each of these band segments? In other words, whatever the total time spent on the hobby, where is it spent in the frequency spectrum?

I computed the total time as described above. The reported hours on each band were converted into a percent of the total time spent per month by band. These percentages, which total to 100 percent for an individual respondent, are shown in Figure 3 as a box plot of the distribution by band. This represents a time portfolio characterizing each amateur in the survey.

Two patterns jump out to me in Figure 3. Some hams spend most of their time on 2 meters and 430 mHz while others are mostly HF operators. This is not a surprising result for most readers. There are small numbers of hams who are effectively “band specialists.” Note those near the 100 percent mark on various microwave bands or 160 meters or the lowest bands, 630 and 2200 meters. Some operate mostly on six meters. The bands with low medians but a skewed distribution toward the highest end illustrate these specializations.

It is important to note the dominant patterns of frequency usage while also recognizing that not all hams follow suit. Some choose to be band specialists in the time they spend participating on these frequency allocations. These are the first such data ever reported on a national sample of licensed amateurs so it is a benchmark against the various impressions that most hams have of how bands are utilized on a routine basis.

Age Patterns by Frequency Range

I have organized comparisons by age group for each prominent frequency band: Low Frequency, HF, Very and Ultra High Frequency, and Super High Frequency (see Full Report for details). These results will tell us about age differences in how bands are used. Do younger hams use particular bands than more senior ones? Are there sharp differences by age in the adoption of higher bands? Age patterns can inform us about future band allocation policies so they can be critical bits of data for national advocacy groups and spectrum regulators.

Low Frequency (LF) Bands

I begin with low frequency (LF) bands, including 2200, 630 and 160 meters as represented in a stacked barchart (Figure 4). Each bar represents the banduse composition for a given age group with specific labels to make reading them a bit easier.

As a long-standing band allocation, the Top Band of 160-meters is used by every age group. This is particularly so for those over age 30. But the newer allocations of 630- and 2200-meters are sparingly used among all ages. Likely because of the required antenna lengths and land-use restrictions, the lowest frequency band (2200-meters) has, at most, a mere 3 percent participation in any age groups. The 630-meter band has at most a 5 percent usage rate, this among twenty-year-olds. Surprising results perhaps but it is informative to more fully grasp how the newer LF bands are reportedly being used.

High Frequency (HF) Bands

The results for HF include the Magic Band of six-meters are shown in Figure 5. There are few surprises in this graph. The 80 through 10-meter bands are enjoyed by over half of the hams in Canada for those over age 20. (This is likely due to licensing patterns.) These are the most long-standing allocations where the widest variety of commercially available equipment is available to the amateur radio market. Use of 80-10 meters slightly increases with age (e.g., 20-year-olds at 53% vs 80-year-olds at 94%). The HF bands are in good stead regarding dominant use by hams in Canada.

For six meters, use is fairly constant at just less than one-half of Canadian ham operators play in the periodically open Magic Band. This really does not change much by age. The attraction to this low-opening, high-reward band is the ability to work DX during band openings. A minor attraction is local and regional communications, often using repeaters operational on the band. To link this band back to Figure 3’s time portfolio, note the share of hams who spend most of their time on six meters.

The result of the highest reported usage (33%) among the small number of teens in the survey should be taken cautiously since the actual use in the population could be different than the other age groups with higher numbers of respondents (i.e., there is a low number of teens in the survey).

In short, the results for usage in the high frequency to six-meter bands is largely what would be expected by most amateur operators. But knowing the age patterns does empirically illustrate how young hams get into HF at those ages, too. This grounds the survey into the type of results that can be more reliably trusted for findings that are unexpected, too. The intriguing result of the “band specialists” for six meters await openings to operate tell us about another segment of the amateur radio hobby in Canada.

Very and Ultra High Frequency (VHF/UHF) Bands

Turning to VHF and UHF bands, Figure 6 also shows no surprises: two meters is king! About 90 percent or more of every age group says they work two meters in a typical month, hands-down the universal frequency band for Canadian amateurs (see Figure 1). This is followed by the 430 MHz band which is a bit more popular among younger hams than older ones who tend to favor 2 meters. The 220 MHz band universally holds a slice of about one-fifth (15-24%) of the survey respondents’ reported usage.

Now, we often hear: why are the repeaters dead? I interpret these survey results with reference to Figure 3 above regarding the time portfolio spent on 2 meters. Most Canadian hams say they spend between 10 and 50 percent of ALL their amateur radio hobby on the 2 Meter band. I suspect that this is due to the prevalence of short-lived Nets that are on weekly activation cycles but this is speculation. So many hams check-in, have nothing to report, and are quickly off of the Net. Some hams may check-in to many Nets while others just a few (or none).

This time-targeted behavior pattern hypothesis may not explain these survey results versus the mantra that we all tend to hear but it’s one possibility for sure. It does beg the question of what “dead” means in this sense. No one there when a given ham listens for a few minutes? No one responding to a dropped call sign on the frequency? Given these survey results, the use of “dead” may be hyperbole.

Microwave and Super High Frequency (SHF) Bands

Moving into the microwave and Super High Frequency ranges involving the highest band allocations, Figure 7 shows these results of band usage by age. (I have included the 900 Mhz to 2.3 Ghz bands here for convenience, technically not part of the SHF range.) The barriers to getting into SHF operations differ markedly from other bands. There are fewer off-the-shelf commercial radios and associated equipment so homebrewing is almost a perquisite. The equipment and space for homebrewing, for instance, a transverter for an HF or VHF/UHF radio or a horn antenna is not available to every ham operator as they can be very expensive relative to VHF/UHF or HF radios and antennas.

With this preface, there are significant age-graded patterns of usage in this frequency allocation region. Figure 6 displays a stacked bar chart by age group of Super HF band use. This region of band allocation is sparsely used at the highest band of 24 GHz. The users are exclusively in the 40- to 70-year-old groups. On the other end, the 900 MHz region is used by all age groups, especially younger hams. The 1.2 GHz band has a significant group of users, between a fifth and a third of those from age 40 to 80 or more. This compares well with the 5 GHz (5650-5925 MHz) band. The 2 GHz region is close behind. With these relatively new allocations as compared to HF, for instance, there is likely to be increased use. The concentration of use in large urban centers may foster increased adoption since there are more operators and Elmers available in those cities.

With this in mind, Figure 7 shows that younger hams do operate in the various SHF bands (slightly less than one third). There is a spread of participants across these individual bands, too. Most of it is in the 900 Mhz to 5 Mhz range as 10 Ghz and above require quite specialized equipment. As more commercially manufactured equipment comes on the market, this highest set of bands may perk up, too.

Conclusions on Band Use in Canada

There is a healthy use of the amateur radio spectrum in Canada as reported by the hams in this national survey. Two meters is the common band for the vast majority. But HF is a dominant place where Canadian amateurs get on the air, too. The age patterns in band use are not as prevalent as they are in modes of operation (see Full Report and previous blog articles). This bodes well for future band allocations as use is often said to drive allocations.

It is good to see the presence of hams in bands above HF. While some of this is very specialized technology at this point in time, experimentation and innovation in the SHF region will likely yield grand benefits. This national survey confirms these patterns of behavior rather than rely on what is technically hearsay by individual hams. These results should also have importance for manufacturers and, especially, small innovators. They establish a market for such products. We now know that the bands above VHF/UHF have a significant segment of amateurs participating in activities on these frequency regions. Moreover, the mainline HF and VHF/UHF markets are stable, a safe and sound target for product design and sales.

Frank Howell, K4FMH, is a regular contributor to and writes from Mississippi, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

CHOTA 2024, Anyone?

The Churches and Chapels on the Air coordinator, John Wresdall G3XYF, sent this notice out this morning:

Dear All,
thanks to all those who have let me know they are operating in CHOTA 2024
on 14 Sept . If you intend to put your church or chapel on the air please let me know. The latest list is periodically uploaded to the WACRAL site when Mike G0RBB can manage it.
John G3XYF

John’s email for this is: [email protected]. He is good on

Note: CHOTA 2024 is September 4, 2024. See other posts on this blog about CHOTA. The main site for this event is: My church group had a blast last year!

Frank Howell, K4FMH, is a regular contributor to and writes from Mississippi, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

Fun with the Sun…..


As ham radio operators no matter what mode you operate one major contributing factor regarding success or failure is the Sun. Propagation reports can be found on the internet, some with cool pictures and others with just lines of data. Things such as solar flares, coronal mass ejection (CME), solar wind and the list goes on. Being able to look at propagation data and interpret it is beneficial. An understanding can help us realize that not all solar flares, CME and high solar wind can mean poor conditions. I found a great site that goes through many areas that make up a propagation report. At some points yes it can get into too much detail but overall I found it to be very informative.
Understanding propagation can be very interesting and also can help you understand the data that is shown.
Here is the LINK to a site that gives great information about propagation.

Here are some propagation sites: 

Solar Ham 

Current ham radio conditions 


Mike Weir, VE9KK, is a regular contributor to and writes from New Brunswick, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

LHS Episode #547: Choppy Airwaves

Hello and welcome to the 547th installment of Linux in the Ham Shack. In this episode, the hosts cover short topics including the return of Logbook of the World, gaming with FT-8, the RegreSSHion vulnerability that affects many systems, Nobara Linux 39, Linux running on Google Drive, the latest version of AllStar Link and much, much more. Thanks for listening and we hope you have a great week.

73 de The LHS Crew

Russ Woodman, K5TUX, co-hosts the Linux in the Ham Shack podcast which is available for download in both MP3 and OGG audio format. Contact him at [email protected].

IARU contest results


My contest contacts

 This weekend was the IARU contest and you can participate in CW, SSB or both. As for me, it was CW only....surprise surprise. The solar weather can affect how radio operations in both a good way and a bad way. This weekend it was a bad way but that is ok as I tell myself the solar weather does not discriminate it treats all operators the same way. The advanced solar forecast prepared contesters for a rough ride but to add to it the Bz index, something we don't hear much about in Solar weather circles was deep in the negative direction. When you have poor solar weather and add in a -Bz index it just makes things worse. What it sounds like to a CW contester is one moment a signal is very decent and then gone and in most cases gone for some time. 

This is a challenge for contesters as when you hear a call sign, come back to them and get a report you generally have no luxury for repeats. If the anomaly happens mid-contact well you most likely cannot log the contact. I find during these conditions you have more stations contacting you more than once on the same band (called a DUPE). Because of the changing condition, you may think the station heard your exchange but they did not and may be asking you for a repeat and you can't hear them asking. So due to the poor conditions, they are not able to log your contact that you think was a solid contact. Whenever I have a station call me that has called me before and is in the log (DUPE) I  always work them again as you are not penalized for it. But there are a few that send "QSO BEFORE" and will not log the contact. 

Anyway, I digress....this year I was able to log more contacts (56) during very poor conditions compared to last year and better yet I almost doubled my score. Last year's score was 69,484 compared to 130,130 this year.  This contest starts on Saturday at 9 am local time and ends on Sunday at 9 am local time. I was up early on Sunday (5:15) to keep adding to the log. I am a morning person and up each day at 6 am so I was not too far off from my normal time.

The final results


Mike Weir, VE9KK, is a regular contributor to and writes from New Brunswick, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

AmateurLogic 195: Cheap Old Code

AmateurLogic.TV Episode 195 is now available for download.

George replaces a defective FT-857d display with an economical new option. Emile’s Cheap Old Code. Tommy shows how to get your GMRS license and visits the new GigaParts Superstore. Terry, 2E0IPK visits with his RigExpert AA-230 Zoom analyzer.


George Thomas, W5JDX, is co-host of AmateurLogic.TV, an original amateur radio video program hosted by George Thomas (W5JDX), Tommy Martin (N5ZNO), Peter Berrett (VK3PB), and Emile Diodene (KE5QKR). Contact him at [email protected].

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