Posts Tagged ‘vhf/uhf’

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.

SOTA Success on Red Mountain #3

Last year, Joyce/K0JJW and I tried to activate Red Mountain Number 3 (W0C/UR-016) for SOTA in the San Juan mountains. The map showed there was a road to the top, so we were expecting easy access. However, the road is gated off about 2 miles from the summit, requiring a hike. So we hiked almost to the summit but turned back when the thunderstorms rolled in. We retreated to safety and vowed to return another day.

Red Mountain Number 3 as viewed from Red Mountain Pass.

This week, we went back and activated the summit, along with Stu/W0STU and Liz/KT0LIZ. Red Mountain No. 3 sits just southwest of its sister summits: Red Mountain No.1 and Red Mountain No. 2. (Red Mtn 1 is also a SOTA summit, so we’ll need to activate that one sometime.)

We accessed Red Mountain 3 (RM3) by taking Highway 550 to Red Mountain Pass. The road for RM3 is County Road 14 but is not well marked. The turnoff (shown on the map above) is just south of Red Mtn Pass, going to the east (37.89587, -107.71369). County Road 14 is a narrow but easy road, barely 4WD, that leads to the gate (37.89476, -107.70774). We parked there and hiked up the road.

Sign on the gate that welcomes hikers, skiers, and cyclists.

I don’t usually like to hike on roads but this one turned out to be just fine. It was a nice, easy grade and was flat without a lot of rocks poking up. My GPS app shows that we hiked 2 miles one-way with 1400 vertical feet. We met about a dozen people on the hike, so this seems like a popular summit. We noted other trails and roads in the area and wondered if some of them might provide a better route but everyone we saw just used the road.

 

As you can see from the photos, we had excellent weather that day. This time, no thunderstorms to chase us off the peak!

Stu/W0STU examines his VHF/UHF handheld, positioning it for optimum signal level.The San Juan mountains are remote, with not a lot of people within VHF range. We were all using just VHF/UHF for SOTA, so I was concerned we could get skunked on making our four SOTA contacts. There are a few smaller towns within range and we might be able to work Grand Junction from there. I knew that Lloyd/W7SAO in Delta usually monitors 146.52 MHz and we worked him right away. After that, we called our fellow campers, James/KD0MFO and Vic/KD0OGE, working them mobile near Ridgway. We kept calling for a fourth contact and sure enough, Mike/KE5YF showed up on 2m FM. Mike is from Sweetwater, TX and was driving his Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) over Engineer Pass. So we made our four contacts to qualify for SOTA points.

Traditional summit photo: Stu/W0STU, Liz/KT0LIZ, Joyce/K0JJW, Bob/K0NR

 

Liz and Joyce are hiking on a typical stretch of the road.
Bob/K0NR operating 2m FM for SOTA. (Photo: W0STU)

The four of us had a great day on the summit. We took our time and enjoyed the hike and the radio operating. The easy access and excellent views from the top make this an attractive SOTA summit if you are traveling in this area.

73 Bob K0NR

The post SOTA Success on Red Mountain #3 appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

SOTA Success on Red Mountain #3

Last year, Joyce/K0JJW and I tried to activate Red Mountain Number 3 (W0C/UR-016) for SOTA in the San Juan mountains. The map showed there was a road to the top, so we were expecting easy access. However, the road is gated off about 2 miles from the summit, requiring a hike. So we hiked almost to the summit but turned back when the thunderstorms rolled in. We retreated to safety and vowed to return another day.

Red Mountain Number 3 as viewed from Red Mountain Pass.

This week, we went back and activated the summit, along with Stu/W0STU and Liz/KT0LIZ. Red Mountain No. 3 sits just southwest of its sister summits: Red Mountain No.1 and Red Mountain No. 2. (Red Mtn 1 is also a SOTA summit, so we’ll need to activate that one sometime.)

We accessed Red Mountain 3 (RM3) by taking Highway 550 to Red Mountain Pass. The road for RM3 is County Road 14 but is not well marked. The turnoff (shown on the map above) is just south of Red Mtn Pass, going to the east (37.89587, -107.71369). County Road 14 is a narrow but easy road, barely 4WD, that leads to the gate (37.89476, -107.70774). We parked there and hiked up the road.

Sign on the gate that welcomes hikers, skiers, and cyclists.

I don’t usually like to hike on roads but this one turned out to be just fine. It was a nice, easy grade and was flat without a lot of rocks poking up. My GPS app shows that we hiked 2 miles one-way with 1400 vertical feet. We met about a dozen people on the hike, so this seems like a popular summit. We noted other trails and roads in the area and wondered if some of them might provide a better route but everyone we saw just used the road.

 

As you can see from the photos, we had excellent weather that day. This time, no thunderstorms to chase us off the peak!

Stu/W0STU examines his VHF/UHF handheld, positioning it for optimum signal level.The San Juan mountains are remote, with not a lot of people within VHF range. We were all using just VHF/UHF for SOTA, so I was concerned we could get skunked on making our four SOTA contacts. There are a few smaller towns within range and we might be able to work Grand Junction from there. I knew that Lloyd/W7SAO in Delta usually monitors 146.52 MHz and we worked him right away. After that, we called our fellow campers, James/KD0MFO and Vic/KD0OGE, working them mobile near Ridgway. We kept calling for a fourth contact and sure enough, Mike/KE5YF showed up on 2m FM. Mike is from Sweetwater, TX and was driving his Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) over Engineer Pass. So we made our four contacts to qualify for SOTA points.

Traditional summit photo: Stu/W0STU, Liz/KT0LIZ, Joyce/K0JJW, Bob/K0NR

 

Liz and Joyce are hiking on a typical stretch of the road.
Bob/K0NR operating 2m FM for SOTA. (Photo: W0STU)

The four of us had a great day on the summit. We took our time and enjoyed the hike and the radio operating. The easy access and excellent views from the top make this an attractive SOTA summit if you are traveling in this area.

73 Bob K0NR

The post SOTA Success on Red Mountain #3 appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

Rito Alto Peak SOTA W0C/SC-004

Rito Alto Peak is an easy 13er about 15 miles west of Westcliffe, CO in the Sangre De Cristo mountain range. This summit caught my attention because it was near Hermit Pass, one of the highest passes in Colorado at 13047 feet. We’ve been taking the Jeep up the highest roads in Colorado, and Hermit Pass was on The List. Looking around on the map, I noticed that Rito Alto Peak was an unactivated 10-point SOTA summit right next to the pass. Not only that, the summit is in the San Juan National Forest (K-4404), enabling a POTA activation as well. So how could we not do a trip up there?

Bob/K0NR climbing up Rito Alto Peak near Hermit Pass

Rito Alto Peak (W0C/SC-004) and Hermit Pass are about 15 miles straight west of Westcliffe, CO. To get there, take CR 160 (Hermit Road) west and then turn south onto FS 160. The turn-off is easy to spot and begins the 4WD portion of the trip. The 4WD road is not particularly difficult from a technical point of view, but the road is very rocky for most of the 9 miles. Every once in a while, the road has a smoother section, only to be followed by lots of rocks. I call these roads “moderate but annoying.” Any real 4WD vehicle should be able to handle this. We drove our stock Jeep Wrangler and it did fine. This is not a road for Suburu-class SUVs.

To get to Hermit Pass, head west from Westcliffe, then follow Hermit Road south.

At the end of the 9 miles of bouncing up the road, we parked at Hermit Pass and started the climb there. (It took us about 2 hours to drive this road.) Of course, you can always hike some or all of the road. Useful climbing info can be found here on 14ers.com. Hermit Peak, to the south of the pass, is NOT a SOTA summit. However, further south is Eureka Mountain (W0C/SC-007), which could also be hiked from Hermit Pass.

Climbing route shown in blue.

The figure above shows the track of our climbing route. There is no trail and there is plenty of talus to step over and around. The route is not critical but we tended to stay on top of the ridge line, sometimes deviating to find a better path. The distance was 0.7 miles one way with an elevation gain of 700 feet. So not too difficult, except for climbing over rocks. Trekking poles are highly recommended.

We spotted three bighorn sheep on the next ridge over.

On the summit, we set up our normal 2m FM station: the Yaesu FT-90 transceiver with 3-element 2m Yagi antenna, and started calling on 146.52 MHz. Joyce made the first contact so she has the honor of doing the first SOTA activation from this summit. You Go Girl!

Bob/K0NR and Joyce/K0JJW on the summit of Rito Alto Peak.

I was a bit worried about getting enough contacts to qualify for SOTA points but that turned out to not be a problem. We heard strong signals from the Buena Vista area (W0BV, KD0MRC) and Florrisant (K0MGL). We also made some Summit-to-Summit QSOs (S2S): WV0X (St Charles Peak, W0C/SC-031), W0ADV (Snowmass Mountain, W0C/WE-003), and W0CP (McQuaid Butte, W0C/SP-109). We also worked K0EEP, K9RZK, W9RIK, and W9NDR. Our Best DX for the day was 104 miles, with W0ADV on Snowmass. Thanks for all of the 2m FM QSOs!

Just one of the many fantastic views from the mountain.

As shown in the photos, the weather was excellent. We took our time on the mountain and never saw signs of thunderstorms. The climb down was easy and we returned to the Jeep. Then it was 9 more miles bouncing down the road and on to Westcliffe for a late lunch. What a great day for SOTA + POTA + Jeep trip.

73 Bob K0NR

The post Rito Alto Peak SOTA W0C/SC-004 appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

SOTA 23 cm QSO with N0OY

While planning for the 2022 Colorado 14er Event, I decided to focus on making some long-distance contacts on 1.2 GHz (23 cm). Last year, Dave/W0ADV and I worked summit-to-summit (S2S) at a distance of  244 km (152.6 miles), which is my best result so far. See my previous post here…

Using 1.2 GHz in the Colorado 14er Event

For this year’s event, I wanted to beat that distance so I checked in with the usual SOTA activators that use the 23 cm band, wondering if any of them would be on summits that would support such an effort. I was thinking in terms of another S2S contact using portable FM handheld radios. I identified a few summits in the San Juan mountains that might work, from Pikes Peak or Mount Evans. Also, northern New Mexico has some potential summits, but I did not find anyone interested in activating them.

Bob/K0NR sitting down on the job on Pikes with the ICOM IC-9700 and Comet CYA-1216E Yagi antenna. (Photo: K0JJW)

Knowing that Lauren/N0LD has done quite a bit of VHF/UHF operating from Pikes, I figured he would have some insight concerning summits that are workable from Pikes. We connected via telephone and discussed some options. In that conversation, he suggested I reach out to two hams that have serious 23 cm stations in Kansas: N0LL and N0OY. This shifted my thinking away from S2S contacts to working a UHF station out on the plains. (Kansas has a noticeable lack of SOTA summits.) Pikes Peak (W0C/FR-004) is well-suited to this approach, being easy to access with a road to the top and an excellent radio horizon to the east. I sent an email to Larry/N0LL and Pete/N0OY to see if they were available. Larry replied that his 23 cm gear was currently off the air but Pete said that he was available to give it a try.

The N0OY station deserves the name “antenna farm”. (Photo: N0OY)

The distance from Pikes Peak (W0C/FR-004) to N0OY is almost 400 miles, so the FM handheld radio approach was probably not going to work. My ICOM IC-9700 was the way to go, with 10 watts of RF power to a Yagi antenna. Pete used an ICOM IC-705 to drive a transverter that supplies 50 watts of RF to an 8-foot dish antenna at 45 feet. I chuckled when I heard this because the IC-705 is a popular SOTA rig…just not usually found on 23 cm.

The N0OY 8-foot dish antenna at 45 feet.

Joyce/K0JJW and I made it to the summit a bit early and immediately set up for the 23 cm attempt. Normally, we operate on the west side of the summit, away from the visitors center and most of the tourists. For 23 cm, I wanted the best shot possible to the east, so we walked over to the boardwalk on the north side of the summit. It sticks out enough to give an excellent view due east.

N0OY (EM18ct) is straight east of Pikes Peak (DM78lu), 628 km (392 miles).

Once I was set up, I sent a text message to Pete asking him to start transmitting my direction on 1296.1 MHz. We had agreed to start with CW, our most efficient mode, and perhaps later try SSB. He started with a series of CW dashes and I could easily pick up his signal. Joyce pointed the antenna for me, finding the best direction to peak the signal. Pete’s signal was not terribly strong, but solid copy, only a few dB above my noise floor. Because he was running more power than me (about 7 dB), I was concerned that he would not be able to hear me. I called him using CW and initially, he did not respond. We kept trying and my signal came up a bit at his end and we were able to complete the contact. Conditions were marginal enough that we did not try SSB. (Sorry, Joyce missed out on this one…she doesn’t work CW.)

The weak K0NR CW signal just barely showed up on N0OY’s waterfall display.

SOTA Requirements

Although we drove to the summit of Pikes Peak, we made sure we were SOTA compliant. Our normal approach on a drive-up summit is to load up our backpacks with a portable station and hike some distance away from our vehicle. My IC-9700 is not exactly a compact transceiver but it is portable enough to transport some distance and it can be powered using a small Bioenno battery. I’ve carried this size radio (often an FT-991) on other SOTA activations, hiking a mile or two with it. It certainly adds weight to my pack, but it is manageable. The antenna was a Comet CYA-1216E, about 5 feet long, with 16 elements and a specified gain of 16.6 dBi.

So this is my new personal best for 23 cm SOTA:628 km, 392 miles. My thanks go to Pete/N0OY for getting on the air and giving this a try. His station was doing more than half the work with this radio contact. I’ve done SOTA QSOs like this with other weak-signal VHF/UHF operators. They may not be active SOTA chasers but they like the challenge of completing a difficult contact. I really appreciate them getting on the air with me. It’s all part of having fun messing around with radios.

This raises the question of what’s next?
Maybe I can get N0OY to move his station another 50 km to the east for another attempt. Probably not.

Stay tuned.

73 Bob K0NR

The post SOTA 23 cm QSO with N0OY appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

Four Days of SOTA Fun

This year, the Colorado 14er Event had the normal two-day (Saturday and Sunday) schedule plus two bonus days (Friday and Monday) for four activation days. Of course, Joyce/K0JJW and I decided to activate all four days using VHF/UHF frequencies. Frankly, we have not been doing that much hiking this year, so we were careful to lay out a plan that would work for us over four days.

Kaufman Ridge (W0C/SP-081)

On Friday, we hiked up Kaufman Ridge, which is a relatively easy summit near our cabin. I had an online meeting in the morning that caused us to get a late start this day, but we did chase some activators in the morning. On the summit, we worked a number of stations on VHF/UHF using the IC-705 transceiver. It was clear that most of the activators left their summit before noon, as is the usual practice for the 14ers and high peaks.

Normally, we focus our SOTA fun on VHF/UHF but this time I brought along an end-fed halfwave antenna for 20m and made a few 20m SSB contacts, including one with Elliot/K6EL on Mount Davidson (W6/NC-423). That’s right, a rare HF SOTA activation by K0NR. Joyce and I also turned in a log for Parks On The Air (POTA), which was San Isabel National Forest (K-4407).

Bob/K0NR on the trail up Kaufman Ridge.

Pikes Peak (W0C/FR-004)

On Saturday, I wanted to focus on making some 1.2 GHz (23 cm) contacts so we chose Pikes Peak as a good platform for that. Pikes is always fun because of its easy access (yes, we drove up) and its high location towering over eastern Colorado. We had Jon/KM4PEH and his wife join us on the summit, taking turns using the VHF/UHF bands. I made 42 QSOs on the various bands but my 23 cm contact with N0OY was the most exciting. I worked him in Salina KS on 1296.1 MHz using CW for a distance of 627km (392 mi). This is my new personal best for SOTA on that band.

Saturday was a good day for Summit-to-Summit (S2S) radio contacts, as I picked up 13 of them, all on VHF/UHF in Colorado. Joyce and I both worked Dave/W0ADV on Capitol Peak (W0C/SR-060) using 1.2 GHz FM. Capitol is a challenging climb, as shown in Dave’s video here.

Pikes Peak is in the Pike National Forest (K-4404), so we submitted our logs for POTA.

Bob/K0NR sitting down on the job, getting ready for a 23 cm activation.

Mount Antero (W0C/SR-003)

On Sunday, we got up early and drove the Jeep up Mt Antero Road, parking at about 13,600 feet in elevation. This cuts a large chunk of the distance and elevation off the ascent to 14,268 feet. Besides, who wants to hike on a 4WD road anyway? It is still a decent climb over the rocky trail to get to the top.

A view of Mount Antero, on the way up.

This was my fourth SOTA activation of Antero, including its first activation back in 2011. (Actually, I’ve activated this many more times during the Colorado 14er Event, which predates SOTA in Colorado.) The activity was down a bit from Saturday and we were much further away from the large population centers, which is a factor on VHF/UHF. Still, we both made 17 QSOs, including five S2S contacts. We submitted our logs to POTA for San Isabel National Forest (K-4407).

Bob/K0NR working 2m FM from the summit of Mt Antero.
The 70cm Yagi-Uda antenna is vertically polarized for FM operation.

 

Wander Ridge (W0C/SP-042)

On Monday, we activated one of our favorite summits near Cottonwood Pass, SP-042. Usually, I would refer to this as an Unnamed Summit (12,792), which is the name the SOTA database shows. Dave/W0ADV pointed out this summit does have a name: Wander Ridge, so I’ve adopted it for this special peak. The USGS approved that name in 2017 but it has not yet made it into the SOTA database.

Bob/K0NR on the Continental Divide Trail and Colorado Trail, headed to Wander Ridge.

From an outdoor hiking perspective, this was the best summit of the weekend. The hike starts at Cottonwood Pass and follows the Continental Divide Trail south toward the summit. Then, a short off-trail hike takes you to the summit. The weather and views were excellent!

Bob/K0NR and Joyce/K0JJW on the summit of Wander Ridge.

The activity was a bit light but we both made 10 contacts, enough to qualify for a POTA activation (in addition to SOTA). This summit is right on the border of San Isabel NF and Gunnison NF, and we chose to activate it from the San Isabel side (K-4407). We only had one S2S contact, with Steve/K5SJC on Pikes Peak.

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend with four excellent summit activations. It was wonderful to work our old and new SOTA friends on the VHF/UHF bands. My special thanks go to Pete/N0OY for firing up his mega 23cm station to work me on Pikes Peak.

73 Bob K0NR

The post Four Days of SOTA Fun appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

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.


Subscribe FREE to AmateurRadio.com's
Amateur Radio Newsletter

 
We never share your e-mail address.


Do you like to write?
Interesting project to share?
Helpful tips and ideas for other hams?

Submit an article and we will review it for publication on AmateurRadio.com!

Have a ham radio product or service?
Consider advertising on our site.

Are you a reporter covering ham radio?
Find ham radio experts for your story.

How to Set Up a Ham Radio Blog
Get started in less than 15 minutes!


  • Matt W1MST, Managing Editor




Sign up for our free
Amateur Radio Newsletter

Enter your e-mail address: