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Author Topic: Best HF Band for New Technician Class Operators?  (Read 867 times)
KD6DXA
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« on: July 14, 2019, 11:41:59 AM »

My soon-to-be stepdaughter is currently studying for her license, and I was curious which HF band would give her the best introduction to HF operating. We currently live in an apartment, so I’m naturally drawn toward the higher-frequency bands (10 meters, 15 meters) from a practical antenna-raising standpoint, and she could use SSB on 10 meters of course, but I figured 40 meters is probably more reliable at this point in the sunspot cycle. Thoughts?

Thanks!  Smiley

Zachary, KD6DXA
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Zachary Fruhling, KD6DXA
https://www.zacharyfruhling.com/
KE6EE
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« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2019, 12:43:20 PM »

you got it
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AC2EU
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« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2019, 01:52:07 PM »

There are no phone privileges for the Technician license on 40 meters, CW only.
see:
http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Tech%20Band%20Chart/US%20Amateur%20Radio%20Technician%20Privileges.pdf
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KD6DXA
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« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2019, 01:55:51 PM »

There are no phone privileges for the Technician license on 40 meters, CW only.
see:
http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Tech%20Band%20Chart/US%20Amateur%20Radio%20Technician%20Privileges.pdf

Yes, I was aware of that, of course. She is also learning the code, so she will be able to operate CW as well. Knowing that I likely won't be able to get up a spectacular multi-band antenna at our apartment QTH, I was trying to decide between going with 10 meters (for the sake of a small antenna) so she can use phone and cw, or figuring out how to get a 40 meters antenna up (where she would obviously need to stick to CW until she upgrades to general). Thanks!  Smiley
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Zachary Fruhling, KD6DXA
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K0UA
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« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2019, 03:02:59 PM »

My personal thoughts on the matter are that while the phone operation on 10 Meters seems like fun, you have to remember the Summer Es season ends in August, and there isn't all that many phone operators on 10 meters anyway.  She might get rather frustrated never hearing any signals on 10 meter phone. 40 meter CW is going to have signals just about any old time. I know I would not want to rely on 10 meter phone to make a contact.   I just did a quick spin and spectrum scope look from 28.300 to 28.500 and found 1 QSO a W3. that was it, and for months at a time there will be nothing as we leave the Es season. Just food for thought.

Addendum:.  A quick spin and look at 40 CW revealed a fair number of  stations and some of them sending at slow speeds... Lots more to pick and choose from down there.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2019, 03:08:22 PM by K0UA » Logged

73  James K0UA
ARRL Missouri Technical Specialist
KD6DXA
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« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2019, 03:45:15 PM »

She might get rather frustrated never hearing any signals on 10 meter phone. 40 meter CW is going to have signals just about any old time. I know I would not want to rely on 10 meter phone to make a contact.

That is exactly what I am worried about. It will take more creativity to get a 40 meter antenna up in the air, but undoubtably it will be more fun from a getting-contacts standpoint. I've never yet lived in a place where I couldn't get on the air somehow; I just want to make sure that my soon-to-be stepdaughter has a fun and engaging introduction to HF ham radio within the constraints of what's possible in our apartment QTH.

What's the situation with 15-meters CW these days? Same story, or is 15 meters thriving?
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Zachary Fruhling, KD6DXA
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K5DH
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« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2019, 06:12:42 AM »

40m is going to be her best bet, assuming you can work out an antenna.  The "lure" of 10 meters ends up disappointing many new Techs.  There is usually no propagation at night on 10m and 15m, and it's spotty even during the daylight hours.  40m seems to be open to somewhere all the time.  It will be noisy, especially operating from an apartment, but determination will overcome difficulty.  I operated 40m from a ground-floor apartment with an indoor antenna when I was first married.  I managed to fill page after page in my logbook despite the noise and the poor antenna.  Where there's a will, there's a way.  Go for it! 
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N8YX
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« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2019, 07:08:13 AM »

B&W used to offer a portable antenna that - through the use of loading coils - could be used on several HF bands; one at a time.

I'd try to find one of those...or a Hustler 54" mobile mast and mount w/ a multi-resonator adapter. Put a 40M and 10M resonator on it; possibly a 15M resonator as well.

Run at least one tuned 1/4-wave counterpoise per band from the base.

Such a setup would work decently if installed in an attic with little or no metallic objects nearby.
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K0UA
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« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2019, 08:29:19 AM »

Yeah, not much on 15 CW portion either except during contests. There are lots of ways to get some sort of antenna on 40 meters, even if it is a compromise antenna like a mobile.  A good screwdriver antenna with some radials might not be all that bad and would work all bands. I have a lot of fun with my mobile antenna on my truck and If it was all the antenna I could manage to have it would be better than nothing for a home station if it had sufficient radials.

 On the plus side it is pretty easy to tune up for a band change. Even with the manual switch that would not be bad for a home station, just listen for the most noise/signals and then fine tune with the rigs built in SWR meter. Or get a controller like I have in the mobile.

 But the main reason for controllers in the mobiles is so you can tune on the move and keep your eyes on the road. But a screwdriver for home use, that would not be an issue. Maybe the main reason more people do not use screwdriver antennas for home use is the cost of the antennas and the fact that compared to a simple dipole which you can make for near nothing in cost will seriously outperform them.

 BUT if you cannot put up or hide a dipole or other larger wire antenna, then a screwdriver which you could easily hide in a piece of PVC or in an attic might be worth considering if that is all you can do.

In any case, bottom 40 meters is going to beat all the uppers bands available to a tech at this time in the sunspot cycle.  Now in a couple of years that may not be true.  The cycle 25 spots are coming, it is just a matter of time.
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73  James K0UA
ARRL Missouri Technical Specialist
W1QZE
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« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2019, 08:55:19 AM »

If you have a radio capable of working six meters that would be a good place to start too.  Usually a whip antenna is all you need.  You can listen for beacons, operate CW & SSB in a relative short frequency span (50.090 CW - 50.125 SSB).  There is a possibility of DX or FM contacts too.  It's sometimes called the magic band but it is also a band that requires patience awaiting an opening.  The ten meter spotting frequency for six also results in some nice contacts too.

Bert WH7USA / V73GOD
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WA3SKN
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« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2019, 04:28:17 PM »

At what time?
SSB/cw?
80m CW at night, 40m CW any time, 15m CW day time, and 10m CW/SSB/data day time.  6m summer time (and Huh).
So this depends on her interests and operating schedule availability as well.
So when does she plan on operating?

-Mike.
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N0RRS
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« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2019, 01:38:30 PM »

Personally I would encourage her to get the GENERAL as soon as she could, but in the meantime I think 10m would be a good choice because it allows her to use both CW and SSB. An old CB antenna works just fine on 10 meters if you use a tuner or trim it down about and inch or so in length. And of course a 10 meter rig can be made out of an old CB radio pretty easily too. Another band that would be helpful for her to get on would be the 6m "magic band" which I think is the BEST Tech band. Hope this helps.
George
N0RRS
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KG5AHC
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« Reply #12 on: July 16, 2019, 04:18:55 PM »

I am thinking a magnetic loop would be just right for 40 meters where big antenna is not possible. I have recently built one that tunes on 40 and 20.  it appears to have all the characteristics of a small loop:  narrow bandwidth (at resonant frequency), directional in the plane of the antenna with nulls on either side. "compact" just over 3 foot diameter...

Able to reach both near and far contacts (on js8call and wspr at this point)… no radials required, does not have to be more than a few feet  (3-5) off ground.. Mine is mounted on a camera tripod.

Best Regards,
Jeff KG5AHC
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WO7R
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« Reply #13 on: July 16, 2019, 07:49:55 PM »

General, pronto.

You want to be on 40, 20 and 17 at this point, at minimum.

Young / new ham wants to be on FT8 also.
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K0UA
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« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2019, 08:04:37 PM »

General, pronto.

You want to be on 40, 20 and 17 at this point, at minimum.

Young / new ham wants to be on FT8 also.

Best advice so far...
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73  James K0UA
ARRL Missouri Technical Specialist
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