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67 miles on 50w SSB

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

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  1. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Good points, of course.

    I think many newbies (and even some oldies) are discouraged about VHF weak signal work (say, SSB) because they don't install an adequate antenna to really try it out.

    I've often heard, "Yeah, I tried 2m SSB and day after day never heard anybody."

    "What's your antenna?"

    "My 8 dB gain vertical that works great on FM!":eek:


    Fact is, there's less activity on 2m SSB (or 70cm, or really any of the VHF bands except for 6m), so the stations are much more spread out. If I review my logs over the years, 95% of all stations worked are over 100 miles away. Probably 80% are over 200 miles away. You're not going to hear them with a vertical.

    Then there's "I tried a horizontal beam and still didn't hear anybody!"

    "Oh, what did you try?"

    "I had a 4 element beam on my chimney! It should have worked great!":eek:

    Oops again.

    It doesn't necessarily take buckets of money, but it does take some "work" to do well on 144-222-432-902-1296+ MHz SSB. One can build an 8 element Quagi on a 14' boom that works very well for about $20. Get a used rotator for $100. Some surplus TV hardline for "free." Install 30' of guyed mast in a roof tripod and get the beam up 50' above ground. Total cost for all that might be $200-$250 inclusive. But then, you have something that actually works.
  2. KK4YWN

    KK4YWN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Lots of great points being made.

    But try fm with a buddy on decent horizontal antennas and let me know what you find ;)

    I almost bought a cushcraft cross yagi because I know a guy with one and if we tested fm on both polarities using the same antenna the results would change people's minds.

    As has been said: if the repeater operators would just go circular we'd see a real change in how people perceive vhf/uhf.

    I talk a little fm. Actually I talk a lot if fm. It's a nice mode and were are lucky to get to use that much bandwidth. But if you look at reciever sensitivities for fm and ssb, you'll often find a huge difference (in favor of sideband). And weak fm is prone to noise. Not so with ssb. That 67 mile contact was easy to understand and the guy didn't even register on my receivers meter.

    Abou costs: man this really gets my goat. I can pick up a cb with ssb brand new for the cost of an fm only rig. With a little twiddling it'll do 25 watts.

    Where is yaesu icom and kenwood? They're busy forcing the upsale. Buy more get more right?

    Except for the poor guy who never learned to work with what he had. And he's not the only one for sure.

    If I could design a nice little ssb rig for 2m for under $200 it would already be on the market. I'd love to be responsible for that cultural shift :)
  3. KK4YWN

    KK4YWN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks :)

    And thanks for the info. I'm actually more interested in a split. Two thirds in the h and a third in the v. I read someplace that this was found to be ideal when talking to mobiles. I forget what the reasoning was behind the split. I recall it has something to do with dopler and reflections off the car body.
  4. N9DG

    N9DG Ham Member QRZ Page

    All points spot on... I've heard that exact same story that Steve describes play out many times over the years.

    I've pointed out several times before in different places that the first 30-ish dB of improvement over that 8dB gain vertical for 2M SSB work comes pretty cheap and easy. It is the next 10dB improvement after that is what gets much more expensive and difficult :).

    In rough numbers, there will be around 20dB improvement getting horizontal, and then another 10dB or so on top of that with a 15 foot or so foot boom antenna. And of course decent coax, something like LMR-400 is definitely worth it beyond a 25 foot cable run, and is OK for up to around 100 feet. More than 100 feet, then you should seriously consider something better for feedline.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2014
  5. N9DG

    N9DG Ham Member QRZ Page

    Actually I experience this scenario pretty much every contest on 222. There are a fair number of stations who don't have SSB/CW gear for 222, but they do have decently long boom length horizontal antennas. So by being matched on horizontal polarity at both ends, it is no trick at all to work out to 150+ miles on 222 FM when the station on the other end is running just 25 watts or so. Would SSB be easier, sure, but over a path like that FM will work fine. Those ops will usually say something like: "I have 222 FM only, but I am horizontally polarized". Them being horizontally polarized makes all the difference in the world since I don't have anything vertical on 222. If they tell me they are just running an omni vertical, and they are at some distance away, then I won't even bother trying to work them on 222.
  6. WA9WVX

    WA9WVX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Oh there is a difference using Circular Polarization as it effective couts the ERP Gain down by -3 dB which may not sound like a lot of RF Power but it's equivqlent to going from 100 W to 50 W and the same holds true for the receive sensitivity. The only way I know to overcome this problem is adding remote satellite receivers and feeding their audio into a voting comparator and that alone can become expensive for the repeater owner.

    Most new people want to think that the repeaters are free for using not so because there's electric costs, property costs (if the repeater is located away from the licensed operator / owner, maintenance costs, i.e. antennas, Feedlines, RF filters, regular solid state components even if someone is repairing the equipment free from labor charges) all of these things add up and who's paying for the financial charges? I seen many repeaters over the years be pulled out of service because no one wanted pay a monthly fee to help defer the financial cost.

    Most of the repeater owners buy commercial land mobile two-way radio equipment because of it's reliability but that equipment doesn't come inexpensively even on the used market & the units do fail from time to time, I don't care who manufactures the equipment, they do break down. These little throw away BaoFeng handhelds are cheap but they also can cost money to repair (if you can even get a schematic or the replacement components) or replace the entire unit and battery.

    Circular Polarization has the ability to maintain FM communications, preventing noisey spots within the normal coverage area but its been proven time and again that once you've reached the outer edge line of sight from the repeater station, its like you fell off of the earth and this holds true for a base station set up using CP with a Yagi beam antenna.

    I don't know who commented on VHF & UHF equipment vs 11 m CB equipment ... let compare Apples and Oranges, there both in the fruit family but completely different and the same holds true between 27 MHz and 50, 144, 220 & 440 MHz, they're all in the RF family but as you design and manufacture the VHF & UHF equipment, the price of the components go up in price too. Essentially there's no way to compare design and manufacturing cost of VHF & UHF vs HF.

    Last edited: Nov 21, 2014
  7. KA2BPP

    KA2BPP Premium Subscriber QRZ Page


    Tuesday nights, at 8pm local time, the is a informal net up in VA on 144.175. Is called the mudtoad net. KD8UD is the net manager so to speak.
    Basically it is to spur activity and help folks make contacts. there is no real formal structure, you check in, goes round robin but if there is someone
    you want to work, no problem jumping in and trying. Lou does a great job of keeping the chaos down but it is mainly for fun.

    My first radio when licensed was an icom 251a. still use it. tried fm for about 3 or 4 weeks. didn't like it. flipped to the horizontal and never looked back
  8. KK4YWN

    KK4YWN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks Artie. I'll pass that along to the fine fellows in central NC.

    I'm afraid I can't join in the fun during the week because my work keeps me away from my station. I'd complain, but to be honest, being away all week makes weekend-radio-time a welcome treat :)
  9. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Nice story, and the IC-251A is a good rig. I had one, then the 271A then the 275H, which is a 100W version and a little better than the others (but not much).

    Back your way, does Roger K2SMN still run the East Coast VHF SSB net on Sunday mornings on 144.250? He's in central NJ and last I visited him had stacked beams up about 120' on a big tower, over a hilltop where he lives and had a very commanding signal from ME to NC including VA, KY, TN, etc. He used to get "check ins" from NC all the time. That was many years ago, though, and I don't know if that net is still going.
  10. AI3V

    AI3V Ham Member QRZ Page

    The reflections of a signal tend to be randomly polorised.

    Add on edit: And the signal you receive on a typical 2m mobile (at least around here) is allmost never a direct line of sight shot, but a reflection of some sort \edit

    Transmitting 2 signals rotated 90degrees from each other gives you a much greater chance of matching the (usually) vertical polorized mobile.

    Not suprisingly, a horizontaly polorized mobile ssb station looks strange going down the road, but "gets out" like nobodys buisness.

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