2m weak signal and CW experiences with a modest station?

Discussion in 'VHF/UHF - 50Mhz and Beyond' started by HA2ZB, Jun 8, 2021.

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  1. HA2ZB

    HA2ZB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    My ham radio preferences are low TX power (less than 20W), low profile simple antennas (backyard, attic). This works well for me on HF (CW, digimodes), but I am interested in expanding to the 2m band as well.

    Hams around me are doing FM only on VHF/UHF, and I don't even have a VHF CW receiver to listen and test the band. Buying a cheap receiver would be a reasonable next step, but I need some expert opinions before even starting spending any money for this project.

    I am on the repeaters and have fun with low orbit FM satellites too, but doing CW would be great on 2 meter as well.

    Anyone running a station on 2 meter with CW / digimodes using low TX power and without rotating beam on the roof? How do you manage it? Any ideas, advice will be appreciated! Thank you!
  2. N4TS

    N4TS Ham Member QRZ Page

    From what I understand Europe has a lot of weak signal activity on 2m.

    That being said, if you are only going to use low power (i.e. not add a amp) I would highly recommend getting a big antenna (I would recommend that anyways) but if you really want to work DX stations you'll need at least a 15ft long yagi to get decently out.

    You could go with a small horizontal omnidirectional loop, and still do somewhat decent, but your range will be much more limited unless there is a band opening.
    HA2ZB likes this.
  3. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    It would probably be best to get answers from local 2m weak-signal operators in or near Hungary.

    Here in the U.S., 2m CW was very popular in the 1950s-1960s-1970s and SSB became dominant from the mid-70s into the 2000s, but lately FT8 has become more popular than CW or SSB for weak-signal work. Other digital modes having software more optimized for extremely weak signal sequenced work (meteor scatter, moonbounce) have almost completely replaced SSB (for scatter) and CW (for e.m.e.). Those modes "still work," but most aren't using them.

    There's quite a lot of SSB activity on 2m during contests, and we have various weekly "nets" and such, but I'd guess at least 80% of all the weak signal work is now digital.

    2m CW was wildly popular here when I first started chasing weak signals in 1966: Everybody used it, and under "enhanced propagation" conditions (temperature inversion tropo, ducting, etc) it was actually difficult to find a clear frequency! But that was a really long time ago.

    Check with local 2m enthusiasts, as it may be different there -- but probably not!
    N4DJC and HA2ZB like this.
  4. SM0AOM

    SM0AOM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Traditionally, Central Europe has been an activity centre for
    weak-signal VHF for a very long time.

    There is a tradition of portable operation in mountainous area ("Bayerische Bergtag") using modest stations, but it would be hard to say if any meaningful results could be made with small antennas and low power in areas with low population densities, especially if "random" contacts are to be used.

    I recall my first own tries in 1970 when using a 2-element quad just inside a window.
    The results were quite disappointing with 10 W and crystal control, and not until the 6-element Yagi made in 8th grade metalworking classes was on the roof-top with its rotator things felt to be "workable".

    HA2ZB likes this.
  5. W7HV

    W7HV Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yes. I used to run 50W into a home made squalo. You can do 2m CW with modest power and antennas, but it'll be much more dependent on the band openings and their quality, so more rare and sporadic in nature.
    HA2ZB likes this.
  6. W1VT

    W1VT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I was able to work tropo out to couple hundred miles running 10 watts to an open wire fed 86 ft dipole at 35 feet.
    It worked reasonably well until I got a car and switched to operating portable from mountaintop locations.
    I patiently waited for band openings. They weren't numberous 100 ft ASL but I did work them.

    After I finished my award chasing I got a 2M brick and 2M liaison to make 10GHz microwave contacts from a convenient beach location.
    It only took an hour to drive to the beach from my house compared to three hours from the best mountaintop locations.

    Openings are much more numerous from a good location with a clear horizon.
    A beam on the car with a brick amp allowed me to create pileups. The highest spot in a rare grid.
    I also made two EME contacts with 160W to a 13 el Yagi on CW.
    It helped to have HF CW contesting experience. As well as many hours digging HF QRP stations out of the noise.

    Zak W1VT
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2021
    HA2ZB and KK4CUL like this.
  7. KK4CUL

    KK4CUL Ham Member QRZ Page

    That sounds awesome!

    I've only got a 25w Kenwood TR-751A (best received / recovered FM audio I've heard besides FM Broadcast, 100%) but am just using a 5/8 GP for the time being so haven't tried out SSB yet. But this post and your comment, W1VT might be a little bit of motivation to get a beam and figure out where to mount it on my roof that won't have my wife crossing her arms and giving "the look..."
    HA2ZB likes this.
  8. W1VT

    W1VT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I bought a Yakima roof rack and added some square aluminum tubing to mount antennas.
    I drive up to a spot, park, and attach a rotator to the mounting bars. Then I'd climb on top of the roof and install the antennas!
    When I did this I weighed less than most YLs.

    Zak W1VT
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2021
    HA2ZB likes this.
  9. HA2ZB

    HA2ZB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thank you very much for all of your comments! They were very informative and helpful!

    So my takeaway: I need more specific info from local hams and not to expect much from a minimal setup.

    Rotating beam on the house / tower is not an option unfortunately, so I will have to be creative if I go for this mode. Project is on hold, but I learned something again!

    Thank you again! 73!

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