Welcome to Handiham World.
- Novice and Technician licensees may operate using single side band: between 28.300 and 28.500 MHz using up to 200 W.
- When the 10 m band is open as it is lately, high power is not necessary. Excellent contacts can be made even using very low power. Many stations will be using 100 W or less – in fact, I will amend that to say that MOST stations will be using 100 W or less. High power is simply not necessary, which puts Novice and Technician operators on a level playing field with other operators. Experience tells those of us who have been in amateur radio a long time that we are not going to bother turning on a linear amplifier to operate on the 10 m band.
- 10 m antennas are small and almost everyone can fit this kind of antenna into the space that they have available. Using our formula for a half wave dipole, 468 divided by 28.4 MHz (the middle of the Novice/Tech segment of the band), yields an antenna about 16 and one half feet long. That is a pretty manageable length! You would make each leg of a dipole 8 feet three inches long and feed it with 50 Ohm coax, such as RG-8X low loss if you must use a thinner cable or the standard size cable RG-213. Keep the coax run as short as possible in any case, because loss in the feedline increases as the operating frequency goes up. There is more loss per foot on 10 meters than on 75 meters. A quarter wave vertical antenna for 10 m is only a little over 8 feet high. If you want to construct a quad or Yagi antenna for 10 m, they are much smaller than 20 m directional antennas and thus have a smaller turning radius. A 10 m antenna is lighter and easier to handle, too.
- For our Technician Class Handiham members who have already purchased HF transceivers but who have never used them for anything but receiving, this is your chance to press that push to talk switch and enjoy operating SSB. Yes, I know that you have CW privileges on other HF bands, but this is PHONE, and conditions are so good that it is easy to make contacts. Of course Morse code contacts are easier and better during good band conditions, but the window for SSB is open right now.
- RF safety is a concern if you use indoor antennas on the 10 m band. Be sure to perform an RF safety evaluation and locate the antenna as far away from people as possible. Adjust the power level to achieve compliance. For more on how to do this, visit the ARRL website and check the TIS, or Technical Information Service. If you are a Technician Class operator who is studying for General, there is information both in your study materials and in the question pool.
It would be nice to extend these excellent Handiham resources to more members at a time when band conditions are so good.
Getting a taste of HF operation would surely make Techs excited about earning their General tickets.
The 10 m band is also a good place to learn more about HF operation because it is not as crowded and competitive a place to operate as bands like 20 m.
We are now hosting the software downloads for the W4MQ software.
The HF remote base stations do require some additional technical expertise to operate. Novice and Technician operators are usually the least experienced and need the most help getting things to work. Lyle, K0LR, and I don’t do much, if any, “tech support” on these stations because we simply do not have the time and most of the problems are located at the user’s own home computer anyway. My biggest fear is opening up a floodgate of emails and phone calls about how to install the software and get it to work. This is not an insignificant problem. An installation requires opening a free Skype account, getting audio settings correct, and then installing the W4MQ software and a required W4MQ update. After that, the software must be configured with the IP address of each station and the log in credentials. This is not a problem for a computer user with at least an intermediate skill level, but it is quite challenging for a user who does not know their way around a computer.
Technician users may get frustrated by operating practices on HF, which are much different than what they have experienced on FM repeaters. Of course you have to learn somewhere, but are we really ready to do a “sink or swim” exercise here? Maybe we need some training ahead of time, but we have none set up.