Don’t Get Stuck On 2 Meters

When I first got started in amateur radio (many years ago), one of the engineers that I was working with at a summer job told me “Don’t get stuck on 2 Meter FM”. At the time I was a college student and felt lucky enough to have 1) found time to pass my Novice exam, including Morse Code test, 2) found time to travel 150 miles to the regional FCC office and pass my Technician exam, and 3) scraped up enough money to buy a basic 2 Meter FM mobile rig. I was in Technician ham heaven, playing around on 2 Meter FM, both simplex and repeaters. Oh, and we had this cool thing called autopatch that let you make actual phone calls from your car. I really wasn’t worried about getting “stuck on two”.

Even though my discussions with this Old Fart Experienced Radio Amateur revealed that he didn’t see 2 Meter FM as Real Ham Radio, I could see that he had a point. Two meter FM is only small part of the ham radio universe and it would be easy to just hang out there and miss out on a lot of other things. I was reminded of this recently by K3NG’s post: Things I Wish I Knew When I Was A Young Radio Artisan. I agree with most of his comments with the exception of this one:

Don’t get your start on 2 meter repeaters.

This took me back to the comments from the Experienced Radio Amateur from years ago. I get the point — starting out on 2 Meter FM and Repeaters can give you a limited view of ham radio — but I see it as the perfect platform for getting started. Here’s what is working in my area with new Techs: get them started with a dualband FM rig (usually an HT) so they have some on-the-air success. This also puts them in touch with the local ham community, where we not-so-subtlely expose them to other bands, modes and activities. They hear the other guys talking on the repeater about working DX on 10 Meters and start thinking about how to pursue that as a Tech. From there, it just expands out to all kinds of bands and modes.

Just for the record, I guess I did follow the advice of the Experienced Radio Amateur and managed to not “get stuck on two” (i.e., I’ve worked all of the bands from 80M to 10 GHz, earning WAS, WAC, DXCC and VUCC.)

73, Bob K0NR

Bob Witte, KØNR, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Colorado, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

6 Responses to “Don’t Get Stuck On 2 Meters”

  • Garth, KF7ATL:

    I started out on 2 meter FM. And yes, it does give you a very limited view of ham radio. When I finally got my HF station set up, I couldn’t believe how much more fun it was, and how much it broadened my horizons! I still use 2 meters, but only on a very limited basis. As far as I’m concerned, HF is where the action is.

  • Terry VE3XTM:

    I agree that one should not get hung up on 2m FM and repeaters. Let’s not forget about another aspect of 2m and also 70cm and that is upper sideband. USB on 2m and 70cm can be just as exciting as HF and in my opinion just as much of a challenge to a serious DXer. Weak signal work on the VHF and UHF bands using a horizontally polarized Yagi is no easy go and it takes a good operator to make a go of it.

    Unfortunately the availability of rigs that will cover USB on VHF and UHF has, until recently been an issue and amateurs have had to rely somewhat on older equipment to get started. But with some of the new rigs coming out now with the VHF and UHF bands the situation has changed.

    Once set up with the proper antenna you will be surprised to hear how much activity there is, especially on 2m sideband. 70cm is even more of a challenge with more difficult propagation and fewer people using the sideband part of the band.

    Some might argue that sideband on VHF is not really DX, but I would counter that what constitutes DX is really band dependent. Getting out on 2m is a challenge but picking up station 500 or more kilometers away is good going. When propagation is with you much longer contacts can be made and it can be very exciting to make these contacts, just as it is on the HF bands.

    Good DXing to you

    Terry

  • James Strasburg kbo-tug:

    That would be nice to up grade I don’t have funds right now to I’m going have stick to 2 meters for right now no body on 2 meters anymore?
    73’s

  • James Strasburg kbo-tug:

    That’s one reason I haven’t active money or time to nothing be back up running again but soon I’ll be up.

  • Kf4qcb:

    I have been on 2m for about 15 years now. I have had some 10m qso’s, but I have wonted to go the other direction . 70cm with atv and 23cm with d-star is lots of fun. I have gotten in to sdr in the last few weeks.

  • 9z4apa:

    i have been on 2m about 4 years now i have worked on 10 and 12 meters with my ranger 2970dx,my icom-735 needs to get checked but cash flow is a bit slow so my 2m is going just fine for now made a lot of contacs oh well 73s.

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