Question about VHF versus hf

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by KB1PDK, Nov 3, 2019.

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  1. KB1PDK

    KB1PDK Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi again. Is earlier asked a question about what band would be the best for beginner for CW. But I can't find that threatened right now so I'm starting over again but my question is a little bit different. I'm wondering whether we would be better to use a transceiver that is for VHF or for HF because I am concerned about the antenna size but I want to be able to reach a person in a town of about 60 miles away with CW and there are hills in the way. Would a 100w 2 m or6m transceiver be conceivable and affordable for this purpose I would like to hear your opinions thank you very much
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2019
  2. WA2CWA

    WA2CWA Ham Member QRZ Page

  3. W9WQA

    W9WQA Ham Member QRZ Page

    i did that as a novice,ka8wqa, on 3702.5 the only xtal i had!!.
    about 40 miles. we set sked on the phone,then straight key...
  4. W4ZD

    W4ZD Ham Member QRZ Page

    My suggestion would be to obtain an HF+6 (or HF+6+2) transceiver and experiment. I would bet you could establish a reliable CW connection on 80-meters or 40-meters, via ground wave or NVIS (Near Vertical Incident Skywave) propagation. And the antenna could be a compact vertical, wire, or whatever. 2-meters and up is surely possible as well, but the antenna (type and height) become more critical.

    As a Novice (many years ago) I would QSO with a friend on 40-meters that lived only 10 miles away. Don't recall any hills, but that was likely ground wave propagation. That was on a dipole and a 12-watt transmitter. Made other nearby QSOs as well.

    I guess the correct answer is to experiment and see what works. But, at a minimum, an HF+6 transceiver and suitable wire antenna give you the option, both inexpensively and with not a great deal of effort. I would NOT go VHF only. And, you may find CW and DX to your liking.
    K0UO and N3AWS like this.
  5. W1VT

    W1VT Ham Member QRZ Page

    VHF doesn't go through hills. If there is a sharp ridge between you and the target it may be possible to scatter off a "knife edge." Very rarely there will be tropo ducting over hills, just like there are occasionally warm days in the middle of a Connecticut winter.

    A remember a really warm half day in which it rained and froze so that a road on my way home was as smooth as glass.
  6. N8FVJ

    N8FVJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    There is about no one using CW on VHF/UHF. Hustler makes a compact vertical antenna. A Screwdriver antenna is smaller yet, but more inefficient on the lower bands.
  7. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Having operated VHF weak signal modes for 53 years now, I'd say it's likely possible to make a contact over "hills" at 60 miles, but it would take very good setups on both ends. Verticals won't do it, and small beams at 20 feet above ground won't do it, either.

    100W to large rotary horizontal beams on both ends, up quite high above ground (60-70' may work) make such contacts much more possible. If the hills are really mountains that are thousands of feet higher than your locations, even good setups may not work. You can do a terrain plot using web tools and resources if you know the actual elevation at each end, the actual elevation of the obstructing hills, and their distances from each end to see what positive horizon angles you're dealing with.

    If you have a 5 degree positive horizon looking at each other, this can probably work. If it's 20 degrees or more, it probably won't.

    I have a +5 degree horizon looking due north of me, provided by Oat Mountain which is 3700' high (and I'm at only 850' elevation) and certainly can't "see" anything beyond that obstruction; but because it's miles away, the actual horizon angle is really only about +5 degrees. On 2m CW, I can easily make contacts on the other side of that. Fresno is 200 miles on the other side of that, and I can work stations in Fresno. They're not strong, they're weak. FM won't do it, but CW does.

    There's a lot of variables involved; you can't change the terrain, but you can change almost everything else.

    Problem for most of us would be "cost" to make this work. It might be very expensive to make it work on VHF (big beams, rotators, towers, power, low-loss coax, etc) but might be very inexpensive to make it work on a band like 40 meters where a lower-cost 100W rig and a dipole at each end is probably all that's needed.

    There is activity on 2m and 6m CW, but it's much less than it used to be due to the popularity of the newer weak-signal digital modes.
    N8ZL and WA3GWK like this.
  8. WA4ILH

    WA4ILH Subscriber QRZ Page

    Your last sentence asks about “affordable.” This is a concern for many newcomers to our hobby. Are you able to erect at LEAST a 40-60 foot tower at both locations? I would think that 100 watt 6 meter transmitter fed to a 3 element beam at about 50’ on both ends would work most of the time. If you are on a really tight budget and unable to erect a tower, I would go for NVIS on 80 or 40 meters. NVIS has the additional advantage of not having to raise a dipole very high above ground. In fact, for NVIS to work well, a dipole at 10-15 feet above ground would work but, be advised that as you lower a dipole to very near the ground, it will affect the tuning, requiring you to shorten up the legs to get it to resonate.
    When I lived in the Norfolk, Virginia area nearly 40 years ago, I would work many stations in New England on 6 meters SSB every night. This was with a 100 watts transmitter to a 3 element beam at 60’. I believe that being within 5 miles of the Atlantic Ocean helped. (water path) Good Luck.
    Tom WA4ILH
    N7EKU likes this.
  9. WT4W

    WT4W Ham Member QRZ Page

    My vote goes for an 80 meter dipole or inverted V. Right now 40 meters isn't as reliable for semi-short distances because the critical frequency seldom reaches that high, but it should be very doable on 80.
  10. N8FVJ

    N8FVJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    In the mid west 40 meters for 200 to 600 miles contacts is open everyday. 100 watts works well. 75 meters fades out by 11 am EST and has been very noisy with weak signals at night of late. Perhaps that will go away.

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