Archive for the ‘hf’ Category

What Do VHF and UHF Mean?

Recently, I engaged in a discussion about a UHF (Ultra High Frequency) radio. It seems a ham was complaining that someone had advertised an 800 MHz radio, describing it as “UHF”. His issue was that in land mobile radio, UHF is commonly used to refer to radios in the 380 to 500-ish MHz range. I disagreed with him, saying that 800 MHz is in the UHF range I was using the ITU definition of UHF, which is any frequency between 300 MHz to 3 GHz. The disagreement was not a big deal but it did cause some confusion. (Of course, I was right and he was wrong, most definitely.)

This got me thinking about how we toss around these terms quite loosely, even though they have precise definitions. Let’s start with the basics, the ITU definitions of radio spectrum.

LFLow Frequency30 to 300 kHz
MFMedium Frequency300 kHz to 3 MHz
HFHigh Frequency3 MHz to 30 MHz
VHFVery High Frequency30 MHz to 300 MHz
UHFUltra High Frequency300 MHz to 3 GHz
SHFSuper High Frequency3 GHz to 30 GHz

You can see that the basic scheme divides up the spectrum into decades (factors of ten), aligned with frequencies that start with 3 (e.g., 3 MHz, 30 MHz, 300 MHz). If we map the amateur bands onto this system, we see that the bands from 80m (3.5 to 4.0 MHz) through 10m (28-29.7 MHz) fall into the HF range, as expected. Note that 10m almost qualifies as a VHF band, coming in just shy of the 30 MHz limit. That band does have some VHF tendencies. The 160m band (1.8 to 2.0 MHz) actually falls into the MF range even though many of us just think of it as HF.

Let’s take a look at how the US amateur bands line up with this scheme.

Amateur bands within HF, VHF, and UHF ranges. (Some omissions for legibility: 60m, 17m, 12m HF bands.) Graphic: HamRadioSchool.com

There are three VHF bands: 6m (50 to 54 MHz), 2m (144 to 148 MHz) and 1.25m (222 to 225 MHz). The UHF range includes the 70 cm (420 to 450 MHz), 33 cm (902 to 928 MHz), 23 cm (1240 to 1300 MHz), and 13 cm (2300 to 2450 MHz) bands.

The two most commonly used bands in the VHF/UHF region are 2m and 70cm. These bands are home for many FM repeaters, FM simplex, SSB simplex, and plenty of other modes. Common dualband transceivers, both mobile and handheld, operate on the 2m and 70cm bands. These radios are so common that we often refer to them as VHF/UHF dualband radios. Accordingly, you will often hear hams refer to the 2m band as simply VHF and the 70cm band as UHF, as if VHF means 2 meters and UHF means 70 cm. I know I’ve been guilty of saying “let’s switch over to VHF” when I really mean “let’s go to the 2m band.” The 2m band is certainly VHF but VHF does not always mean 2 meters. Similarly, we might say “I’ll call you on the UHF repeater” when it would be more precise to say “I’ll call you on 440 MHz.”

Many times being loose with terminology doesn’t matter but there are times when using the right words can make a difference. Think about this the next time you are referring to a particular frequency band.

73 Bob K0NR

The post What Do VHF and UHF Mean? appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

What Headphones Do You Use, And Why?

What headphones do you use for your radio operation, and WHY do you use that particular make and model?

Old Time Morse Code and Headphones

I use Audio-Technica ATH M30x professional monitor headphones (cans).

https://www.audio-technica.com/en-gb/ath-m30x

Audio-Technica ATH-M30x Professional Monitoring Headphones

Audio-Technica ATH-M30x Professional Monitoring Headphones

I use my rig’s filters to shape the audio.

1. I’ve replaced the over-the-ear pads with Gel pads. Wearing these cans is comfortable enough to use for extended periods of time (such as contests).
2. The mid-range with these cans is superior to other cans I’ve had.
3. They are rugged, so taking them out to the field isn’t a problem.

73 de NW7US dit dit
..

Where’s My WAZ Certificate?

Guess what! Today, I received (by postal service) this very nice plaque from CQ, for working and confirming all 40 of the worldwide CQ DX Zones.

CQ WAZ NW7US - Mixed

CQ WAZ NW7US – Mixed – Plaque

Many of you wonder, “where are my paper certificates for my WAZ efforts?

At least one, if not all of the following, are reasons why there has been such a long delay in getting paper certificates for the WAZ CQ program:

  1. Paper certificates (blanks) were not available and backordered (Covid, folks).
  2. There is only ONE person doing the lettering (by hand).
  3. The advent of FT8 and FT4 in the WAZ program has SWAMPED the program. There’s a HUGE backlog.

That said, the new CQ WAZ Manager (N4BAA, JOSE CASTILLO) has made the following statement available:

— quote follows —

Effective September 1, 2022, CQ Magazine will no longer provide the Hand Lettered CQ WAZ paper certificate for free.

CQ WAZ AWARD RECIPIENTS HAVE 4 AWARD OPTIONS:

  1. Accept the standard award offering which is a High-Definition PDF file. This file can be printed in color and framed and is very nice. This award is delivered immediately with award letter, thus, no waiting.
  2. Select the traditional CQ WAZ Hand-Lettered award: the cost is $19.00 and includes shipping worldwide. This award option is managed by CQ Magazine and can take up to 180 days to receive.
  3. Select a Level I plaque: 7” x 9” two-tone engraved wood plaque: cost is $57 US / $100 International and includes shipping. Delivery time is under 30 days for US stations and less than 60 days internationally.
  4. Select a Level II plaque: 9” x 12” Floating Etched Acrylic over Black Wood: cost is $91 US / $135 International. and includes shipping.

Here is a video that the administrator has posted, about this:

Delivery time is roughly 30 days for US stations and less than 60 days internationally depending on the actual address.

The intent of this program is to respond to the ever-increasing demand for more options that are still very personalized as well as very elegant.

Not every ham is able to achieve the requirements for a 5BWAZ or 160 Meter plaque, so he is making this offering to everyone!

All questions or inquiries and plaque orders should be directed to the CQ WAZ Manager via email at [email protected] or postal mail via QRZ.com address.

All plaque data will be taken directly from the information provided in your email. The CQ WAZ manager will not be responsible for errors in data supplied by the recipient other than AWARD type and Award number.

To Place Order: send the information below via email to [email protected] or via postal mail to my QRZ.com address and please double-check spelling etc.

Email Subject line should be: “WAZ PLAQUE ORDER – YOUR CALL

Then, provide the following information:

Call Sign:
Desired Name on Plaque:
WAZ AWARD Type
(example: MIXED, RTTY, 15M CW, EME, etc.)
SERIAL NUMBER on award:
Date on Award:
Award Desired:
– Level 1 plaque – $57 US / $100 International
– Level 2 plaque – $91 US / $135 International

There you have it…

73 de NW7US dit dit

 

2022 Colorado 14er Event (Summits On The Air)

August 5 to 8, 2022
Friday to Monday
www.ham14er.org

Amateur Radio operators from around Colorado will be climbing many of Colorado’s 14,000-foot mountains and Summits On The Air (SOTA) peaks to set up amateur radio stations in an effort to communicate with other radio amateurs across the state and around the world. Join in on the fun during the annual event and see how many of the mountaintop stations you can contact. Be aware that many mountaintop activators will hit the trail early with the goal of being off the summits by noon due to lightning safety concerns.

This event is normally held the first full weekend in August. Following up on the success of the 10-day W0C SOTA event in 2021, in 2022 we will add two bonus days to the Colorado 14er Event. The main two days remain Saturday and Sunday (Aug 6 & 7), while the bonus days are Friday Aug 5 and Monday Aug 8th, for those SOTA enthusiasts that need more than two days of SOTA fun!

The 14er event includes Summits On the Air (SOTA) peaks, which includes over 1800 summits! If you aren’t up to climbing a 14er, there are many other summits to choose from (with a wide range of difficulty). See the W0C SOTA web page at w0c-sota.org.

Important: The recommended 2m FM frequencies have been changed to 146.58, 146.55, and 146.49 MHz, to align with the use of the North America Adventure Frequency for SOTA (146.58). The National Simplex Calling Frequency (146.52) may be used as appropriate. See the operating frequencies page.

See the very cool Colorado 14er Event gear available at https://www.cafepress.com/mtngoatwear

Radio operators who plan to activate a summit should post their intent on the ham14er group via the ham14er groups.io website. Also, be sure to check out the event information at http://www.ham14er.org

For a complete list of suggested HF, VHF, and UHF frequencies see this web page.

And there is more!

On the same weekend, SOTA enthusiasts in Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon will activate summits for the Pacific Northwest Not-Quite-Fourteener (PNW-NQF) event. Also on the same weekend, the Southern California SOTA group will hold their SOCAL SOTAFEST. So there will be plenty of SOTA stations to work that weekend.

Warning: Climbing mountains is inherently a dangerous activity.
Do not attempt this without proper training, equipment and preparation.

Sponsored by The Colorado 14er Event Task Force

The post 2022 Colorado 14er Event (Summits On The Air) appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

Cruising the Blue Ridge Parkway

Typical photo of the Blue Ridge Parkway

In May, we met up with our friends Paul/KF9EY and Beth/KB9DOU for a trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Joyce/K0JJW and I had been on the parkway before but had not completed the whole route. We all thought it would be a great trip to do together, in about a week, so we would not be in a rush. Both couples have Class B RVs (camper vans), which are well-suited for such a trip.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is part of the National Park Service, construction started in the 1930s and took decades to complete. The basic concept is a scenic road with a maximum speed limit of 45 MPH connecting Great Smoky Mountain National Park and Shenandoah National Park. We met at the Smoky Mountain end of the parkway and traveled north to Shenandoah.

Of course, we included some Summits On The Air (SOTA) and Parks On The Air (POTA) activations. The Blue Ridge area is target-rich with SOTA and POTA opportunities.

Clingmans Dome

Our first Summits On The Air (SOTA) activation was from Clingmans Dome (W4C/WM-001), the highest spot in the Great Smoky Mountain NP. This is an easy activation with a half-mile hike (one way) to an observation tower. See my previous trip report here.

We opted for a simple VHF SOTA activation, using a Yaesu FT-2DR handheld transceiver and an RH-770 whip antenna. The observation tower was not too crowded and we were able to make a surprising number of 2m FM radio contacts. We just called CQ on 146.52 and raised a number of home stations, mobile stations, and a few campers.  Joyce, Paul, and I all completed at least 10 contacts so we decided to submit the activation for both POTA and SOTA.

Joyce/K0JJW makes 2m FM contacts from Clingmans Dome while Bob/K0NR stands by.

Blue Ridge Parkway

Then we headed up the parkway, stopping along the way for photo opportunities, a winery visit, lunch stops, and short hikes. We stayed at different campgrounds for three nights along the parkway. To activate the parkway for POTA (K-3378), we stopped at a picnic area for lunch and set up for 20m SSB. We used our typical POTA setup: Yaesu FT-991 driving an end-fed-halfwave antenna supported by a fishing pole.

Bob/K0NR making 20m SSB QSOs on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Note the two Class B RVs in the background.

The station worked well for us but it was a little slow completing contacts on 20m. A 20 AH Bioenno battery supplied the DC power for the FT-991 and we kept the RF output at around 50 watts. I used HAMRS on my Windows PC for logging and it worked well for me. (That logging program keeps getting better with each revision.) Paul and Joyce preferred to log using old-fashioned pen and paper.

 

Paul/KF9EY worked 20m POTA while Joyce/K0JJW does the logging.

Loft Mountain Campground

We camped the last two nights of our trip together at Loft Mountain Campground in Shenandoah NP. This is a rather unique spot in that the campground is located on top of a broad SOTA summit and is inside a national park. The SOTA summit is appropriately named Big Flat Mountain (W4V/BR-009), while Shenandoah NP is park K-0064. This makes for an easy SOTA plus POTA activation.

The summit is located inside the National Radio Quiet Zone, which may require you to coordinate with the NRQZ before operating. However, the W4V Association Reference Manual says that “the typical SOTA activation does not require coordination,” mainly because it is a short-term, temporary radio activity.

Once again, we operated midday on 20m SSB and had reasonably good propagation. Joyce and I made some stateside contacts but when Paul took over, he snagged a couple of European stations. That might be due to his superior operating skill or maybe the band just shifted. Between the three of us, we made 45 QSOs in about an hour or so.

Summary

We had a fun time on this trip, which is another example of blending SOTA and POTA activities with a camping vacation. Our “leisurely pace” strategy worked out well and we were never in a hurry. Of course, there are always more things we could have done. The Blue Ridge Parkway has plenty of interesting tourist, hiking, and SOTA/POTA opportunities. Too many to do in a week.

73 Bob K0NR

The post Cruising the Blue Ridge Parkway appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

Activate A Hoosier SOTA Summit (W9/IN-002)

We have been looking for an opportunity to activate a SOTA summit in our home state of Indiana. Joyce/K0JJW and I were both born there and misspent our youth there. Of course, you might be thinking “there are SOTA summits in Indiana?” Yes, there are three. Two of them are on public land, one is on private land and apparently inaccessible. These three summits are in the southern part of the state, not too far from the hills of Kentucky.

We were headed south towards the Smoky Mountains and passing through southern Indiana and decided to activate Jackson County HP (W9/IN-002). First, we camped at one of Indiana’s best state parks: Brown County State Park, about an hour away from IN-002. The next day we headed to the Jackson-Washington State Forest, where the summit is located. The Indiana Dept of Natural Resources supplies this trail map. As you’ll see, there are a number of trails that can take you to IN-002, but we chose the most direct route, starting at Knob Lake.

There is a State Forest campground around Knob Lake, so that would be another option for camping out.

The red line shows our track up to the summit, starting from Knob Lake.

We headed up a gated road that was labeled “Trails 2 and 3”. This road narrowed into a trail and we took a left turn at the Trail 2 sign. This is slightly tricky because Trail 2 goes off to the left and it continues on straight. The “left” Trail 2 ascends up to IN-002, for a total elevation gain of 465 feet and a distance of 0.7 miles. Go Left.

Once on top, we unpacked our recently purchased Icom IC-705 transceiver. This seemed like a good choice for this activation. While we were sure to try good old 2m FM, there was a good chance that we would get skunked on VHF at this rural and not-too-high summit. Sure enough, 2m FM was silent, even using the mighty 3-element Yagi antenna.

Next, we set up the end-fed halfwave for 20 meters, hoisted by the popular extendable fishing pole. OK, I admit that I had to do some fiddling around with the antenna to get the SWR to behave. Somehow, the test run at the campsite the day before was not sufficient. The SWR was way too high for the “I like 50 ohms” Icom, so some adjustments were required. After an unreasonable amount of fiddling, we put out an SSB signal on 20 meters that seemed good.

The band conditions were not great but they were not terrible. Calling CQ did not seem to work very well, so we tuned around and worked a number of Parks On The Air (POTA) stations to get our 4 QSOs. At that point, we declared victory and headed back down the hill.

This summit was easy to access and an easy hike. If you are in the area and want to knock out a Hoosier SOTA activation, this one is a great choice.

73 Bob K0NR

The post Activate A Hoosier SOTA Summit (W9/IN-002) appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

Unexpected Surprise: What Are The Odds? ATNO DXCC

I have a story for you. All of it is true, but I have not changed my name.

Wow! I am always amazed at those moments in my amateur radio hobby when spontaneous joy is had by unexpected events.

NW7US ATNO DXCC Iran

Iran worked as ATNO DXCC 2022-APR-14

On Thursday, 14-April-2022, at about 17:30 Universal Time (UT), the unexpected occurred, and it started by accident.

I have been reorganizing my radio shack. Once I moved my main transceiver (the Icom IC-7610) from one desk to another, and had it back in operation, I left it tuned to a random frequency, in the CW mode. It was just sitting there, hissing away with the typical shortwave sounds of a frequency on which no one was transmitting. And me? I was going about reorganizing my radio shack.

After a while, I heard the start of a Morse-code CW signal; the operator was sending a CQ call–a transmission that invites a response from anyone who wishes to have a QSO with the calling station. What I heard was, “CQ CQ DE EP2ABS EP2ABS…”

NOTE: This transceiver, my Icom IC-7610, is listening with the new antennathe 254-foot doublet up at 80 feet–that was raised up into the air here at my QTH by a fine crew from Hams in the Air.

I looked up EP2ABS on QRZ dot com, because I did not know from what country/entity the EP2 prefix on callsigns belongs. I was excited to see that EP2 is from Iran!

I started answering his CQ call, “DE NW7US NW7US,” for at least ten minutes; each time he sent his CQ, I answered. Finally, I heard him answering me, “NW7US NW7US DE EP2ABS 5NN…”

I answered back, sending my signal report, “5NN 5NN DE NW7US TU

Soon after that simple exchange, he confirmed our QSO by posting our QSO to Logbook of the World (LotW).

Thus, by accident–as I had simply left the transceiver tuned to a randomly-selected frequency and stayed on that frequency listening while doing my chores–I heard the Iranian station calling CQ. What are the odds!?!?

This is my first QSO with Iran, another All Time New One (ATNO). How cool!

Note: This is a testimony to the work from the crew that did the fine work of getting this antenna installed.  Here is a video presented by Hams on the Air:

73 de NW7US dit dit

..

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