Ah! The ham radio frequencies. This is where exciting things happen for most of us. It's our main playing field ... and it's huge!
Some, like me, also enjoy experimenting with homemade antennas, equipment modification and kits.
But, that's off topic. I have other pages on this site that cover the many other playgrounds of ham radio!
Getting back to amateur radio frequencies ...
The allocation of frequency bands is coordinated by the member countries of the IARU - International Amateur Radio Union.
There are slight differences, between IARU regions, in the allocated ham radio frequencies, and the modes that each will allow.
The table below gives a summary of the bands for LF (low frequencies), MF (medium frequencies) and HF (high frequencies).
2200 meters : 135.7 - 137.8 kHz (max 1 watt ERP)
160 meters : 1800 - 2000 KHz
80 meters : 3500 - 4000 KHz
40 meters : 7000 - 7300 KHz
30 meters : 10100 - 10150 KHz
20 meters : 14000 -14350 KHz
17 meters : 18068 - 18168 KHz
15 meters : 21000 - 21450 KHz
12 meters : 24890 - 24990 KHz
10 meters : 28000 - 29700 KHz
For documents containing a detailed description of each IARU region band plan, see the downloads section below.
6 meters : 50 - 54 MHz
2 meters : 144 - 148 MHz
1.3 meters : 220 - 225
Download more details here.
These frequency bands are shared. Amateurs are secondary users.
70 cm : 430 - 440 MHz
33 cm : 902 - 928 MHz
23 cm : 1240 - 1300 MHz
12 cm : 2300 - 2450 MHz
Download more details here.
It has recently become easy to keep tabs on repeater frequencies, features and available modes of operation.
Learning how to monitor ham radio beacons is the secret to successful and plentiful DX!
Beacons provide early and measurable indications of propagation conditions.
By being diligent, and patient, you can send out a CQ as soon as you begin to hear a beacon.
In doing so, you will often be the one to start a pileup ... instead of trying to fight your way in! ;-)
The Northern California DX Foundation operates eighteen ham radio beacons on five continents which transmit in successive one-minute intervals on 14.100, 18.110, 21.150, 24.930 and 28.200 MHz.
The NCDXF beacon call sign and the first dash is sent at 100Watts. The remaining dashes are sent at 10Watts, 1 Watt and 0.1 Watts. Very handy info for QRPers!
Almost all ten meter beacons transmit between 28.190 MHz and 28.300 MHz. You will find a comprehensive list here.
Six meter beacons are mostly found between 50.0 MHz and 50.1 MHz, with a concentration between 50.06 MHz and 50.08 MHz.
One example is W4CLM/B transmitting 30 Watts continuously into a vertical on 50.065 MHz (+/-) from location EM74 (Atlanta, GA.).
Ideally, you should use an omnidirectional antenna on every ham radio band that you want to monitor! I did say ideally! ;-)
In practice, I suggest that you use some form of omnidirectional, multi-band antenna to monitor HF beacons.
my 160 meter inverted "L" as a general purpose multi-band antenna. It's not ideal but its the best I have available.
If you use a directional antenna (i.e. multi-element beam) to monitor the beacons , you will only effectively hear the beacons in the direction toward which your beam is pointing. But, that may be just be what you want, anyway.
Monitoring ham radio beacons manually is tiresome, to say the least. Many software programs have been written, for many different personal computer operating systems.
Using software to control your receiver automates the beacon scanning process and frees you to work on (or play with) something else in the meantime.
The Northern California DX Foundation lists a number of programs that have been verified to work as advertised. You will find the list here.
Many hams monitor their local packet DX Cluster node for DX activity and to decide whether to join in the action or not. Others log in DX nets to get a chance of making brief contacts with participating DX stations.
The standard time stations (below) will give you some indication of propagation conditions on ham radio frequencies. But, keep in mind that they transmit at much higher power levels than the ham radio maximum legal power limit!
In other words, when you can receive a signal from CHU or WWV, it does not necessarily mean that the closest amateur radio band is usable by most ham radio operators.
The CHU Canada time signal transmitting station is located 15 km southwest of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada at 45º 17' 47" N, 75º 45' 22" W. Main transmitter powers are 3 kW at 3330 and 14 670 kHz, and 10 kW at 7850 kHz. Individual vertical antennas are used for each frequency.
WWV transmits from Fort Collins, Colorado, and WWVH, from Kauai, Hawaii, on 2.5, 5.0, 10, 15 and 20 MHz.
To complement your monitoring of ham radio beacons, you can listen to WWV broadcast the latest solar-flux index at 18 minutes past the hour, and at 45 minutes past the hour on WWVH.Generally speaking, the higher the solar-flux index, the higher the MUF.
One of the most frequented PSK31 frequencies is 14.070 kHz. However, you will also find PSK31 activity on the following HF ham radio frequencies:
Please note that the frequency displayed on your transceiver is the suppressed carrier frequency!
BPSK - binary phase-shift keying - is the most popular mode of PSK31.
It will not matter which sideband you use to work BPSK31 signals. You can work any BPSK signal that the PSK31 software displays in the "waterfall" window.
Do keep in mind that your transceiver sideband filter will pass all signals within 2 to 2.7 (even up to 3 kHz in some cases) above (if in USB) or below (if in LSB) the displayed frequency on your transceiver.
Note that some 90 PSK31 signals can squeeze in 3 kHz, side-by-side! If a signal within the passband is very strong, your transceiver AGC will reduce the RF gain ... effectively wiping out the weak PSK31 signals within the passband.
There are two solutions to interfering strong signals nearby.
For an in-depth coverage of BPSK31 and all other digital modes in use by ham radio operators on HF, I recommend ARRL's HF Digital Handbook.
73 de VE2DPE
7, Rue de la Rive, Notre-Dame-des-Prairies, Québec, Canada J6E 1M9
QTH Locator: FN36gb
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