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Testing Session
Next test session is Sept 8th

  2M Single Side Band

Most of the Tech's I talk to are looking for something a little more exciting to do than just talking on the repeator. I remind them that there are other modes to work, in addition to FM. Packet is one of course, APRS, SEDAN, etc. But what most of them would really like to do is operate something like HF. For these, I suggest 2M SSB. YES! 2M SSB! This mode takes a little dedication and moderate skill to work, so it can offer challenges to those bored with the everyday humdrum existance on FM.

Equipment for 2M SSB:

Operating 2M SSB requires the use of a multi-mode radio. While there are many different types of VHF Multi-mode rigs, hams often overlook the fact that many of the newer HF+ rigs offer 2M SSB as well. In general, any 2M Multimode rig will do fine, but be aware, however, that the price of a dedicated 2M Multimode radio is usually much higher than the simpler 2M FM radios. An older single band multimode rig can command a price greater than one of the newer fancy dual band FM only radios!

Once you have your radio, you will need to consider the proper antenna. While a 2M vertical will permit some initial local success on 2M SSB, it really pays to have a horizontally polarized antenna available. Long ago, the weak signal community settled on horizonatl polarization. There are a few reasons that horizontal polarization is prefereable over vertical in weak signal work. The first is that there is seems to be much less noise present (both man-made and natural) in horizontal polarization. This has the effect of allowing you to discover where the noise floor of your rig is. Secondly, a phenomonon known as "polarization sensitive fading" affects long range communications on 2M. Testing has shown that this phenomenon affects vertically polarized signals more greatly than equivalent horizontally polarized signals. Lastly, there is a cross polarization penalty of 20 dB. What this means is that when those with vertical antennas attempt to talk to horizontally polarized stations, they suffer a 20 dB attenuation of their signal. However, this can be a good thing, as almost all FM signals are vertically oriented and therefore, weak signal stations will see 20 dB less signal strength from nearby FM stations, helping to eliminate interference greatly.

Most of the big guns in this field have extensive arrays of horizontally polarized yagi's.

One question I do get asked at this point is "Doesn't the use of horizontal polarization preclude the use of simple or homebrew omni-directional antennas?" Not Hardly! There are several easy to build homebrew antenna designs that give good omni coverage as well as horizontal polarization. Some examples are:

  • The Halo
  • The Squalo
  • The Lawn Chair
  • The S twist
  • The circular folded dipole
  • The loop
  • The DDRR
  • The Big Wheel
I hope to present some builder articles on a few of these in the near future (bug me about it and I might).

Operating on 2M SSB:

The primary calling frequency on 2M SSB is 144.200. This is the main frequency to monitor, if you don't know where the locals hang out. Please remember, this is a CALLING frequency. By general agreement, this frequency is reserved for making initial contact. Once contact is established, move (QSY) to an alternate frequency. In this area, frequencies between 144.215 and 144.245 are commonly used as an alternate QSY frequency.

There are proposals to define a few frequencies for use as rag chew, beacons, etc. Other than the official ARRL bandplans, I have not seen anything widely adopted.

Perhaps a suggestion would be:
144.200Calling Frequency
144.175Rag Chewing Frequency
144.230+/-10KHzQSO Completion Frequencies

When to get on:

The main problem with 2M SSB is the fact that it is a pretty quiet band these days. Many people try it and leave after not making any contacts. Knowing when to listen is at least half of the trick. First of all, find out if a 2M SSB net meets in your area. If there is no net in your area consider starting one. A recent article in QST recommended that Monday nights at 8PM be reserved for 2M SSB contacts. A list of some 2M nets can be found here.

Secondly, long distance contacts on 2M depend greatly on propagation. 2M Propagation can be a fickle thing. One quick way to know if the "band is open" is to scan for the presence of 2M Beacons. A list of beacons can be found here.

If you have a 2M Net in your area, email me and I'll add it to this page:
Local Okaloosa County 2M SSB NetTuesdays @ 8PM Local

Some Links:

The MidSouth 2M SSB Group:
Central States VHF Society:
Southeastern VHF Society:



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