67 miles on 50w SSB

Discussion in 'VHF/UHF - 50Mhz and Beyond' started by KK4YWN, Nov 18, 2014.

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  1. KK4YWN

    KK4YWN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I spent the weekend putting my 6-element "cheap yagi" up and was rewarded with a 67 mile contact. I know, hardly a big gun, but I'm pretty pleased with the results.

    The other station was sporting 50w into a three-element yagi.

    2m ssb is a lotf fun, but man does it require patience.
  2. N3AWS

    N3AWS Ham Member QRZ Page



    Jim N3AWS
  3. W7UUU

    W7UUU Super Moderator Lifetime Member 133 Administrator Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    Always nice to hear folks getting on 2m in some mode other than FM :)

    I only just this summer got on 2m CW and SSB - and yes, it does take patience LOL! I've got
    an M2 9-element beam at 50 feet - but yet to hit any band opening beyond the locals really.

  4. WJ4U

    WJ4U Ham Member QRZ Page

    Cool! I enjoy trying new band/modes and getting my feet wet. Check out the ARRL VHF contest in January.
  5. N3AWS

    N3AWS Ham Member QRZ Page

    If you monitor 6 meters and hear the "skip" getting shorter than usual, that is the time to QSY to 2 meters!

    You can also listen on popular 2 meter repeater frequencies for signals outside of your local area as a clue for tropo.

    73 and have fun!

    73 Jim N3AWS
  6. WA9WVX

    WA9WVX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hello Ash,

    Here are my thoughts about 2 m SSB, I started on the mode back in 1970 when you had to homebrew transverter and receiving converters to HF equipment tube technology. I didn't have enough money to purchase Drake, Heathkit, Swan, Collins or any of the commercially manufactured equipment. My transverter had 10 W PEP output on 2 m and I used RG-8/U with a single Cushcraft 20 element phased collinear array at 25 feet. My nightly contacts were 200 to 250 air miles away but I was limited on what I could do with the antenna and the equipment. Several years later, I bought my first home and slowly but surely I began to upgrade the station's equipment to a solid state 10 W transceiver, rebuilt collinear array and mounted it on a 10 foot tripod but it was still only 25 feet above the ground, the distance didn't change very much although the ground elevation did as it went from 550 feet ASL to 825 feet ASL.

    The major change came when I purchased 50 feet of Rohn 45 a large long mast pipe (actually Chrome Moly tubing as there is a difference between pipe and tubing), stuck 6 foot into the tower with 2 thrust bearings and left 13 feet of the mast above the tower where I installed a elevation rotor but used it as a polarization rotor so I could optimize the antenna for horizontal or vertical. I picked up another 2 m collinear and put wto of them side by side essentially stacking and doubling my forward gain. I also added a homebrew 50 OHM 2 Port RF Power Divider using 8214 from each port to each antenna. From the center port I used RG-213/U leaving loop for top rotor, down the mast to the top of the tower and another loop for turning 360 degrees. From the top of the tower to inside my shack I used 7/8 inch Heliax roughly 70 feet long and a short pig tail between the Heliax and the 10 W transceiver. The 40 element collinear array had +15dBd / +17.2dBi Gain and front to back 20 dB ... BTW, there wasn't any VSWR to speak about at 144.200 MHz, 10 Forward ... 10 milliwatts Reflected, it was flat across 2 m till it got 147.600 MHz to 148.000 MHz where it peaked out at 1.6:1.

    A couple days after putting everything up in place there a mini opening up to Rochester, Minnesota and I lived on the eastside of Elgin, Illinois at the time, everyone and their brother were calling the two station up Rochester and one by one those hams were responding to the guys in the Chicago area. I finally waited long enough so I called the one guy in Rochester, unkeyed my mic and guy came back to me like I was a block away from him ... WOW, how much power are running? I looked at my 10 W PEP transceiver and went back to the operator stating that I was only using 10 W output & unkeyed. He responded that I was the loudest 10 W station on the band that night, he gave a 50 over S9 signal report something like 250 air miles away, well he was 45 over S9 ... what we use to call it an arm chair copy. And that's the way it continued the remainder of the time while I used that antenna system for 5 or 6 years before taking it all down to relocate to my present location 8 miles farther west. Oh. I did add another 100 feet of ground elevation to 925 feet ASL. That antenna system enhanced my coverage area immensely 3 to 4 times as much working stations as far away as 1,000 air miles on 2 m SSB and FM, I thought nothing working operators using a 5 W handheld with a Rubber Duck antenna 100 to 150 air mies away and regular 25 W FM mobiles 300 to 400 air miles away on Simplex

    Ash, the key to your success will be height of the antenna, the best feedline and a bigger antenna array ... the Antenna System is the King component of your station and then add some sort of RF Linear Amplifier boosting your signal by +6 db, +9 dB, +10 dB or + 13 dB and you'll be working much farther away than 67 air miles ... probably up and down the east coast.

    Last edited: Nov 19, 2014
  7. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I sure agree. And unlike HF, where antenna gain mostly benefits the transmitting end and not as much the receiver (due to noise limiting factors), on 2m, in my experience every dB of antenna system gain (combination of antenna gain and its height above ground, minus transmission line loss) improves both transmitting and receiving equally since noise is rarely the limiting factor.

    I have a 12L 2m beam on a telescoping tower and "cranked down" it's at about 32' above ground; "cranked up" it's about 62' above ground, so the height above earth about doubles when the tower is extended. Either way, it's well above the local rooftops and all nearby obstructions.

    But the difference in what can be heard and worked is almost amazing. With the tower extended, I can hear beacons 200 miles away every day. With it retracted, I can't. It's dramatic.

    Great success with 2m SSB and get on for the January VHF Sweepstakes (January 24-26, 2015) and you'll make a lot of contacts, many of whom may not surface again until the June VHF QSO Party.
  8. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    It's a darn shame we can't convince more new hams to get on VHF SSB - 6 or 2 meters for starters. Most hams have no idea what they could do with a good horizontal antenna doing a weak signal mode, and 50 or 100 watts. I was often a little amazed at what I could work under normal conditions from here, on SSB. Using digital modes, it was even better. I used to check into a digital net down in Peoria IL from here every weekend - about 300 miles. If you need reliable regional communications, I think 6 or 2 meter SSB should be considered.
  9. KK4YWN

    KK4YWN Ham Member QRZ Page

    yebut the bulk of writings about vhf make it seem like there is no fun to be had on vhf. part of my "holy war" against vertical vhf antennas is making people understand what "weak signal" and "over the horizon" actually means. everyone assumes that the horizon is waaaaaay over there and weak signal work is only for people with megabuck superbeams and giant amplifiers.

    i was just talking to a new ham about a problem he has getting into a specific repeater. i had a really hard time making him understand that he was attempting to "do weak signal work" "over the horizon". its amazing how people just don't associate "a weak signal from over the horizon" with "a weak signal over the horizon" when there is a repeater involved. just add the word repeater and all science goes out the window. use vertical. get an amp. maybe a vertical beam. hope for the best.

    off my soapbox....

    i'm designing a nice big fat array on-the-cheap. my money is going into low-loss transmission line. i'm glued to the 50w capacity of my radio because stepping up the power is absurdly expensive. i'm looking at out-of-band filtering, low-noise preamplification, better power supply filtering, and software dsp. all of these are inexpensive improvements. i think thats what makes vhf fun: you get out what you put in. mother nature doesn't necessarily perform all the magic. thats appealing.
  10. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I've been "DXing" (weak signal work, CW/SSB etc) since 1966 from a lot of different places and IMO, the "big array" isn't as important as getting anything with gain, and horizontally polarized, very high above ground. I've tried a lot of stuff and often had telescoping towers, even portable ones that extended to 80 feet or so on trailers, and one thing becomes striking: Height counts.

    Antenna gain and having a reasonably clean radiation pattern without undesired lobes that pick up noise also counts, as does low-loss transmission lines (although these are easy to overcome by just remoting the whole station, as many serious VHFers do). Low noise preamps? Meh. Not nearly as important, unless your receiver's a real dog, and they're easy to blow out (even by lightning transients) if you're not very careful and use sequenced keying. Running "more power" certainly helps, once you're at a point where you're hearing stations that can't hear you. But until that happens, 50W is good enough most of the time.

    I worked my first 29 states on 2m from the east coast running about 50W output to a single 15L long boom yagi at about 45 feet, fed with Times FM8 (old stuff, kinda similar to LMR400 today). To get to 32 states took more time, and 150W output to a 40L colinear system (two Cushcraft 20 element "DX array" colinears) at about 50 feet. To get to 37 states took more time still, and about 600W output to a higher antenna system fed with hardline. Timing is sure important. I never got past 37 states from NJ because they were all tropo, meteor scatter, aurora, some ducts, and sporadic-E, no e.m.e. and 37's about as far as you can go without moonbounce from there. Might be "possible" to hit 39, but I couldn't do it.

    Focus on "antenna height," "antenna gain," "low loss lines" and great timing, and you're in for a lot of fun. The timing part, as you already know, takes patience and maybe sometimes running home to operate from wherever you are when there's a duct in or some Es available.:eek: (Yes, I did that, many times.)

    Good luck and have fun!
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