Category Archives: Amateur News

Getting Started on 2-Meter SSB Try the “Other Mode” on 2 Meters!

This is a great article I came accross written by K0NR, all the way back in 2003. This is something I have interest in and am definitely going to try.

Excerpt from the website:

Why SSB?

FM is the most popular mode primarily due to the wide availability of FM repeaters. These repeaters extend the operating range on VHF and enable low power handheld transceivers to communicate over 100 miles. FM is also used on simplex to make contacts directly without repeaters. The main disadvantage of FM is relatively poor performance when signals are weak, which is where SSB really shines. A weak FM signal can disappear completely into the noise while a comparable SSB signal is still quite readable. How big of a difference does this really make? Perhaps 10 dB or more, which corresponds to one or two S-units. Put a different way, using SSB instead of FM can be equivalent to having a beam antenna with 10 dB of gain, just by changing modulation types. So this is a big deal and radio amateurs interested in serious VHF work have naturally chosen SSB as the preferred voice mode. (You will also hear them using Morse code or CW transmissions, which is even more efficient that SSB.)

Just as an example of what is possible on SSB, during one VHF contest I was operating portable on Garden of the Gods Road in Colorado Springs. I had just dismantled my 2M yagi antenna and was listening to 2M SSB on a short mobile whip antenna. Suddenly, I heard WA7KYM in Cheyenne, Wyoming calling CQ from about 160 miles away. I figured that with my puny little antenna and only 10 watts of power, there was no way he was going to hear me. But, what they heck, it was a contest and it would be more points so I gave him a call. To my surprise, WA7KYM heard me and we made the contact without much signal strength to spare. Now, to be accurate, this contact has more to do with WA7KYM’s “big gun” station (linear amplifier, low noise preamp and large antenna array) than it had to do with my 10 watts and a small whip. The key point here is that this contact would not have happened using FM and was only possible because of SSB.

SWR Demystified

Excerpt from website…

“SWR, or standing wave ratio, is one of the most misunderstood concepts in amateur radio. One of the reasons for this is that it’s so hard to visualize. I mean, you can’t actually see a standing wave on a piece of coax or ladder line.

Fortunately, mechanical waves work exactly the same as radio waves. That’s what makes this video, titled “Similarities of Wave Behavior,” such a treasure. Developed and narrated in 1959 by J.N. Shive of AT&T Bell Labs, this video uses a specially-developed machine to visually show how mechanical waves work, and because radio and optical waves work in exactly the same way, you’ll also learn how radio waves work.”

How to capture NOAA Weather Satellites transmissions

Really interesting read, especially for us hams that are also weather nuts! I plan on trying this expierment myself very soon.

Excerpt from the website:

“Most people are aware that every day weather satellites pass overhead to get a glimpse of the nation’s weather patterns. Many people, especially those outside the ham radio community, are unaware that the signals these NOAA weather satellites transmit are readily accessible with a minimum amount of equipment….”

“All you really need to receive the satellite’s signal is a radio receiver like an old police scanner (found at thrift stores) or a simple 2m ham radio handitalkie. An external antenna is usually better, but not a requirement for casual reception of the image. Other than the radio, the only other pieces are a computer with sound input and an audio cable (to get the audio out from the radio to the input on the computer)…”

” the NOAA 19 satellite transmits at 137.100 MHz, so it is vitally important that your radio be capable of tuning this frequency. It is also important that the radio selected for this project be capable of “Wide FM” and not the “Narrow FM” used for amateur and commercial radio services. APT Satellite signals are 34kHz wide, which is wider than the 6kHz and 15kHz of Narrow FM. Wide FM is most commonly used for FM Broadcast stations which are very wide at 230kHz. Ideally, the radio chosen will have the ability to filter somewhere in between these extremes – wider than Narrow but narrower than Wide…”

Check it out!


A Few Updates

Just a quick update on a few things:

1. The next meeting is on Sept 3rd, at 7:00pm at Marcy Town Hall. This is an important meeting, since it’s the first meeting since spring. We hope to see everyone in attendance.

2. There will be a small presentation by N2TOB regarding the website, how to create an account and how to upload pictures to the website. We hope you can stick around for it.

3. The club has some upcoming events in the works that we’ll need volunteers for! These will be discussed at the meeting. Please let us know if you can help out.

Also if you have anything you’d like to see on the website, pictures, notices, birthdays, upcoming events, anything at all, please feel free to contact the webmaster at CNYARACLUB@GMAIL.COM – or get in touch with one of the board members of the club.

Special Announcement! Summer After-Dinner Net

The After-dinner net, by decision of the club, have been suspended for the rest of the summer to give everyone time to get out and enjoy all summer in Central New York has to offer. You can always call out around 7pm weeknights and may find someone around, but we have nothing office scheduled, except for Mondays with the ARES net, and Fridays for the Swap Net.

Thanks and have a great summer!

KB3UXE – Toby

2m National Simplex Frequency 146.520 ? to use or not to use?

The National Calling Frequency on 2m 146.520, has always been an issue of debate for hams. To use it or not to use it? Do you just give your call, wait for a reply and then if you do get a reply, move to another channel, or can you sit and ragchew on .52?

Hams are really divided on this. Officially, National simplex and calling frequencies are by mutual agreement, and are not a part of the FCC regulations. Some feel that it is good operating practice to keep contact length on these frequencies to a minimum, moving off if you wish to continue. Although, it is not illegal to remain on the frequency.

Some Hams feel that this frequency should be left open for emergency calling etc, and while a short chit-chat would be ok, a full on ragchew is not. A few have even gone as far as to register complaints about hams using 146.52 simplex, and rag chewing on the “channel” when they should move off and leave the frequency clear for others.

Again, this isn’t a law, nor a rule: This type of agreement goes back to the days of crystal control, and most crystal controlled rigs came ready to go on two channels: 146.52 and another one (often 146.94), and many Hams on the other side of the fence feel it’s unnecessary. It’s technically a very old “gentleman’s agreement” that shouldn’t matter anymore.

Many Hams feel that the worst thing that has happened was to make 146.520 Simplex the ‘national calling frequency’ and to effectively *discourage* it’s use by telling Hams to make their contact and move off. Ever since then, traffic in some areas of the country on 146.520 is nearly nonexistent where and when you need it the most. Many Hams say they monitor 146.520 on a regular basis and go weeks without hearing any traffic. Many Hams are now encouraging people to use 146.52 and keep it busy. If someone has a real emergency, they can break in and at least know there’s somebody there to potentially help: This is a lot better than a dead frequency.

So what are you feelings on this issue? Let’s hear it!