Posts Tagged ‘vhf/uhf’
How About An Icom IC-905?
Being an enthusiast for bands above 50 MHz, I suppose I should weigh in on the new IC-905 from Icom. The street price for the basic unit is ~$3500, with various options and accessories at additional cost.
Let’s be clear about one thing, this radio is one impressive piece of technology. There is no other radio on the market that comes close to covering these VHF/UHF/SHF bands: 144, 430, 1200, 2400, and 5600 MHz (and optional 10 GHz). I won’t mention all of the features and specs covered here. I really appreciate that Icom is investing in equipment for VHF and higher, as evidenced by the IC-9700 and this radio.
For me, there are two main uses I would consider for the IC-905: Summits On The Air (SOTA) and base station use:
I focus on VHF/UHF for SOTA with 144 MHz always carrying the load in terms of making radio contacts. Lately, I have put more effort into 432 MHz and 1.2 GHz. I’ve also been trying to get out of the FM rut and work more SSB and CW on those bands. I really should get going on a portable digital station for FT8 and other modes. I have a good collection of gear to choose from, ranging from basic 5-watt FM handhelds to an IC-705 and an IC-9700. OK, the IC-9700 is a bit large to drag up most summits but I have taken it on some easy hikes and drive-up summits. Joyce/K0JJW and I also have a pair of Alinco triband handheld radios (DJ-G7T) that have 1.2 GHz FM. These radios are popular with SOTA enthusiasts due to their affordability and compact size.
What does the IC-905 offer for SOTA? Well, obviously it is a reasonable way to get on 5 or 6 bands with all modes. However, I already have the IC-705 that covers 144 and 432 MHz (and 50 MHz). Having CW/SSB on 1.2 GHz is very attractive to me but 2.4 GHz and 5.6 GHz are rarely used for SOTA. Sure, maybe the introduction of the IC-905 will change that. Maybe, but probably not. Someone commented in an online forum that you better buy two IC-905s and loan one out so you have someone to work. For my interests, I would much rather have a VHF/UHF-only variant of the IC-705 that covers the 50, 144, 440, and 1200 MHz bands. But I have come to accept the fact that radio manufacturers don’t develop radios just for me.
The other option is to use the IC-905 to get on the higher bands from my home station. I am in the process of building a VHF+ station at our cabin in the mountains, which is in a good VHF/UHF location. Honestly, my focus is on getting a tower up with good size Yagi antennas for 50 MHz and 144 MHz. Although I have operated a lot on these bands, it has usually been from portable and rover stations, during one of the VHF contests, or as a SOTA activation. I am looking forward to having an effective permanent station on the two most popular VHF bands. I am debating how much effort to put into the 430 MHz and 1200 MHz bands at the new station, and 2400 and 5600 MHz are not currently in my plans. Besides, the IC-9700 has me covered for 144, 430, and 1200 MHz. So right now, I don’t see the IC-905 being part of the home station, but that could certainly change with time.
What about the price? $3500 is a serious piece of change but probably not unreasonable for what this radio can do. Some people have said it is worth it and some think it is way too expensive. Price is always an issue, but for me it probably doesn’t matter that much. For the most part, I am saying the radio doesn’t fit a need I have. OK, if the price were a lot lower (like $1500), it would affect my point of view. But at that price, Icom would be leaving money on the table with the folks that really want to get on 2.4, 5.6 and 10 GHz.
So my conclusion is that I probably won’t be buying an IC-905 at this time, but things can always change.
What are your thoughts?
73 Bob K0NR
The post How About An Icom IC-905? appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.
Close to Denver: Green Mountain (W0C/FR-107)
Sometimes you just want a close-in SOTA summit that is easy to access and allows you to get on the air. On the west side of greater Denver, a few summits meet that requirement. One of them is Green Mountain (W0C/FR-107), near the intersection of I-70 and C-470. This would make a good beginner summit or an easy-access summit for visitors to the area. Joyce/K0JJW and I activated this 1-point summit today.
Access is easy and convenient, the trailhead can be found by going west on Alameda Parkway, off C-470, then north on S Rooney Road. There is a large parking lot there and an obvious trailhead with pit toilets. From here we hiked east over C-470 into William Frederick Hayden Park. We followed signs for the Green Mountain Trail, which is basically an unimproved road, to the summit of Green Mountain (see map above). This is not the only option because the park has an extensive trail system to explore. Check out the Lakewood parks map here. Also, you can check the trail conditions here. My mapping app recorded the hike as 1.6 miles (one way) with an elevation gain of 800 feet, not very difficult but still a decent hike. On a cool Saturday afternoon, we met many hikers and mountain bikers on the trail.
This hike starts out with a lot of road noise from C-470 but things soon quiet down as we left the highway behind. On the summit, we could see many higher summits to the west and downtown Denver to the east. We only had a couple of handheld VHF/UHF radios with us and made a bunch of contacts on 2m FM. This is usually the case when you have line-of-sight to the Denver area, with plenty of activity on 146.52 MHz.
This summit is not the best SOTA summit in the state but if you are itching to do a SOTA activation without driving deep into the mountains, this one will work!
73 Bob K0NR
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Blogging With AI (ChatGPT)
Sorry that I have not been posting much on my blog. I have several other projects consuming my time and this blog has been neglected.
Then, it hit me: I should just let ChatGPT, a free artificial intelligence (AI) platform that is getting a lot of attention, write my blog for me. All the Cool Kids are Using It. I just entered “Please write my next blog post about VHF ham radio” and this is what I got back:
VHF Ham Radio: Exploring the World Above 50 MHz
When most people think of ham radio, they usually picture a person sitting in a dark room, talking into a large radio with a huge antenna. However, ham radio can be much more than that, especially when you start exploring the VHF bands.
VHF, or Very High Frequency, refers to the portion of the radio spectrum between 30 and 300 MHz. This includes the 6-meter (50 MHz), 2-meter (144 MHz), and 70-centimeter (440 MHz) bands, which are commonly used by amateur radio operators for local and regional communication.
One of the main advantages of VHF ham radio is that it allows for much greater range than the traditional HF bands (below 30 MHz). This is because VHF signals travel mostly in a straight line, and are less affected by the ionosphere and other atmospheric conditions that can impact HF propagation.
In addition to traditional voice communication, VHF ham radio operators also use a variety of digital modes such as Packet Radio, APRS, and D-STAR, which allow for the exchange of data and information over the airwaves.
Another popular VHF activity is contesting, which involves making as many contacts as possible in a short period of time. Contesting can be a fun and exciting way to improve your operating skills and test your equipment.
VHF ham radio is also a great way to get involved in emergency communication and public service. Many amateur radio clubs and organizations work closely with local authorities to provide communication support during emergencies and events.
If you’re interested in exploring the world of VHF ham radio, there are a few things you’ll need. First, you’ll need a radio that covers the VHF bands. There are many options available, from handheld transceivers to base stations with large antennas.
You’ll also need an antenna that is specifically designed for VHF operation. These antennas are typically shorter and more compact than HF antennas, and are available in a variety of types and configurations.
Finally, you’ll need to obtain a ham radio license from the FCC. The process is relatively straightforward and involves passing a written exam that covers basic radio theory, regulations, and operating procedures.
In conclusion, VHF ham radio offers a world of opportunities for communication, experimentation, and public service. Whether you’re a seasoned operator or a newcomer to the hobby, there’s always something new to discover on the VHF bands.
[ end of ChatGPT article]
How many factual errors did you spot?
73 Bob K0NR
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Microphone Hanger for Backpacks
My standard SOTA setup is a Yaesu FT-90 compact VHF/UHF transceiver stuffed into a fanny pack with its Bioenno battery pack. The fanny pack is a pretty nice flyfishing pack that I position on the front side of me so I can easily see and operate the radio. I am usually holding the 2m or 70 cm Yagi antenna and talking on the microphone.
I’ve been looking for a way to clip the microphone onto the pack. Typically, what happens now is I drop the microphone and it gets banged up when it hits the rocky ground. I needed a way to easily hang it on the side of the pack. I recalled having an old cellphone belt clip that accepts the standard button on the back of a mobile microphone, but I couldn’t locate it. However, I did find one on Amazon.
I clipped it onto my fanny pack and the Yaesu microphone hangs quite nicely on it. This clip can be used for other applications…anywhere you want to hang a microphone onto a backpack, belt, or whatever. Depending on your station configuration, this may be useful for all kinds of portable operating: SOTA, POTA, and satellites.
73 Bob K0NR
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Who Does VHF SOTA?
Who really uses the VHF and higher bands (>50 MHz) for Summits On The Air? Last year, I pulled some data from the SOTA database and provided some analysis.
Here is the short story:
Roughly 20% of the SOTA contacts worldwide are on VHF/UHF frequencies and about 90% of these are on 2m FM.
So that’s the information that is in the official SOTA database. For SOTA, I pretty much operate on the VHF/UHF bands so over time I’ve noticed that four types of operators use VHF/UHF for SOTA. Of course, this is based on my own observations, mostly in Colorado but also in other states.
Many newer hams or new-to-SOTA hams just grab their handheld radio and go do a SOTA activation. This makes a lot of sense, assuming there is reasonable 2m FM simplex activity around. Summits that are within VHF range of large population areas usually work quite well. A Technician license is sufficient to have fun with this mode (both activating and chasing). If you are new to ham radio, like the outdoors, and have SOTA summits in your area, this is a fun activity to pursue!
Many SOTA activators are after longer distance contacts so they naturally gravitate to the HF bands. Some leave VHF behind, as they focus on HF operating. However, many SOTA activators and chasers keep a VHF radio in their toolkit, often treating it as an add-on to their HF activity. Sometimes the VHF radio becomes the fail-safe mode if things are not working well on the HF bands. Sometimes, I hear activators say something like “the HF gear was just not working for me today, so I had to use my HT to log four contacts.”
There are quite a few hams out there on 2m FM that are not really focused on SOTA. They like to hang out on 2m FM simplex, especially 146.52 MHz, to chat with whoever comes along. In the backcountry, this may include hikers, snowshoers, skiers, 4WD enthusiasts, campers, etc. It also includes hams just hanging around the shack with a radio or scanner monitoring 2m FM. Announce that you are on top of a summit and these folks are happy to contact you.
Finally, there are VHF/UHF enthusiasts that like the combination of higher frequencies and mountaintop operating. The effect of Height Above Average Terrain (HAAT) has a huge impact at these frequencies. A 5-watt handheld (HT) might be limited to a few miles on flat terrain, but from the top of a summit, the range extends dramatically (50 to 100 miles). Improve your station and 200-to-300-mile contacts are achievable. Most of this action is still on 2m FM but adding in additional bands (70 cm, 23 cm) and modes (CW, SSB) provides another challenge. Chasers are included in this category as well…there are VHF/UHF enthusiasts that are challenged by working distant summits from home.
These are the four categories of folks I usually encounter on the VHF/UHF bands when doing SOTA. Do these match your experience? What did I miss?
73 Bob K0NR
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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.
|LF||Low Frequency||30 to 300 kHz|
|MF||Medium Frequency||300 kHz to 3 MHz|
|HF||High Frequency||3 MHz to 30 MHz|
|VHF||Very High Frequency||30 MHz to 300 MHz|
|UHF||Ultra High Frequency||300 MHz to 3 GHz|
|SHF||Super High Frequency||3 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.
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
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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.
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.
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.
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
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