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 VHF fun that can be had....even on the cheap.

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Victor
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Victor


Call Sign : 26-CT-3228 Ham M7VIC
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PostSubject: VHF fun that can be had....even on the cheap.   VHF fun that can be had....even on the cheap. Icon_minitimeFri Sep 03, 2021 3:16 pm

Hi All,

Hope you're all keeping well and most of all enjoying your radio. VHF fun that can be had....even on the cheap. 1f44d 


I thought I'd tell you a little tale of some interesting propagation fun that can be had with the simplest of equipment.
It's not all about Multimode Shack-In-A-Box rigs as nice as they are and within the realms of even meagre budgets.

VHF 2m is often one of those forgotten bands along with UHF 70cm, definitely not as active as the old B licence days that's for sure! It's great that even as a newly licenced Foundation Amateur we get access to HF frequencies and even the meagre 10 Watt allowance can do you wonders, but most are all too ready to throw away that little dual band handheld and get on with the 'serious' business of HF activation.

Such a shame because when conditions are ripe there can be some fascinating radio that befuddles even the 'old hand' Hams.


This morning for example, (3rd Sept. '21), there was a bit of a VHF lift on and operators were popping into the GB3PI repeater in Royston Cambridgeshire left, right and centre often confused at to what they were listening to.

An operator, (unfortunately I didn't grab the pen quick enough to get his call sign), from Warwickshire thought he was talking through the GB3BC repeater in Pontypprid, Wales. Not surprising as it's on the same frequencies as GB3PI but actually carries a subtone or CTCSS of 94.8Hz so his radio must have picked up the 77Hz CTCSS of GB3PI automatically. He wasn't having any of it swearing blind that his transmission could never carry as far across as Cambridgshire......!!

Now in the old days of 1750Hz repeater tones, (you could 'whistle-up' repeaters back then), propagation conditions could play havoc with the repeater network. You'd whistle up GB3PI and next thing you're talking to an operator with a Welsh accent who was actually on the GB3BC repeater and each of you would think it was some kind of wind-up.
The more experienced operators would know exactly what was happening. Smile


I remember doing such a thing with my old Dad back in 19-clickety-click on a converted Police radio, the PYE Pocket-phone PF1. I was there as I could whistle the repeater up as his whistle wasn't good enough. Wink
I still remember his excitement that his 'little' handheld was firing through the repeaters all the way to Wales!

Now you can see why the CTCSS system can be so useful......sure, it leaves you bereft of such radio fun but often the 'lift' would bring in nothing but noise completely obliterating the repeaters.


This mornings 'lift' saw a new M7 operator who has only been licenced a few months left a bit confused as to what was going on and of course immediately assumed it must be some 'digital' or 'internet' linking thing going on. (Hi Mark M7CGO, was nice to catch you on air after the 'event'. VHF fun that can be had....even on the cheap. 1f44d)

Luckily another 'old hand' operator M0ISQ, Russ all the way up in Billinge near Wigan, came onto the repeater pleased to make such a contact and rightly presumed that there was indeed a VHF propagation lift going on. He was quickly joined by another operator M0ALA, Andy who was in Barnsley, a great conversation took place amongst them all and very pleased to work each other.

All of this going on with simple FM VHF....and if I hadn't been so gentlemanly of sitting back and listening I could have managed on the 2.5 Watts my FT290 puts out. You could've even do it with a little Baofeng handy. Nice though that operators will sit back than the cacophony that can occur on HF with a 'pile-up'. Wink



Here's a map to visualize the distances involved :-

VHF fun that can be had....even on the cheap. Vhf_li10

That'd be 124 miles between the GB3PI repeater and M0ALA Andy, plus a whopping 154 miles to M0ISQ Russ.

M7CGO Mark was at Duxford not far from the GB3PI repeater.

There was also later a GW4 station but they momentarily came up before the propagation simply disappeared.


Now I have done this back when I was first became a Ham, I was on a little Baofeng and my old Ham friend was mobile when suddenly we had an operator from Liverpool break in. Was a thrill at the time and sure I mentioned it here at Charlie Tango.

Of course nowadays there are many ways to access digitally connected signals via the repeaters but it's not exactly RF to RF. Yes the repeaters help in that they have usually better antennas but don't forget a lot of them push out lowly powers, for example GB3PI is just 10 Watts. It doesn't take much of a stretch of the imagination to realise this could be done direct. Indeed, back in the 'old days' such activity was commonplace even with simple FM gear.



The point?

Well if that doesn't excite I'm sure nothing will and I'll leave you to it, but it shows the scope of what is achievable on an oft forgotten band. Yeah, no vast distances and no sunspots.....but a little morning 'weather' can literally go a long way. Wink



I hope it interested at least one of you. VHF fun that can be had....even on the cheap. 1f44d


Apologies again for one of my 'waffle' moments....someone's got to do it. Wink

Have an interesting VHF propagation story yourself? Then tell us all about it, I for one would be interested.


All the best,
Victor




-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Despite now having a 2m SSB capable rig, (FT290R), apart from Ham friends I've had very little contact. There's the usual activity the first Tuesday of every month but unless you're an RSGB member you ain't getting in on that action. (Specified as such in the rules, bolstering RSGB numbers or yet another closed 'gated system'?)

There's usually very little FM simplex action either apart from the odd club 'net' or those that QSY to them from the repeaters without announcing as such, "The usual John......OK mate, see you there". Reminds me of the old CB 'alpha' channel attitudes.....and thinking you're having a private conversation. Rolling Eyes

I know I for one will be looking more into VHF propagation, maybe making a beam and if I hear the beacon such as GB3VHF pick up or unknown repeaters flood in I'll be shouting for all I'm worth.

.....who knows, I may even get to chat with a friend in Wales or some such. Smile

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PostSubject: Re: VHF fun that can be had....even on the cheap.   VHF fun that can be had....even on the cheap. Icon_minitimeSat Sep 04, 2021 6:17 pm

Nice story Victor, and yes, Radio can be a funny thing. I always monitor 144.300 C.O.A on SSB, and all but the last few of my SOTA Activations were on 2m SSB, with a 3 element home-brew Yagi. mostly excellent results. I will be up Great Orme with my FT857 and the 3 element beam, later this month, will put my activity in the relevant section on here and also on SOTAWATCH. Hope to get a few calls in the log only on 2m ssb!! Cheers Tony
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Victor
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PostSubject: Re: VHF fun that can be had....even on the cheap.   VHF fun that can be had....even on the cheap. Icon_minitimeSat Sep 04, 2021 7:40 pm

Cheers Tony.

I must admit that it has all fired up my interest in VHF and UHF too with the recent homebrew 70cm beam performing better than I ever expected. (Digging around for old 70cm SSB rigs now! Wink)

If I get the 2m beam finished, (working on one of those now), I'll point it out your way and hope a lift heralds a contact, otherwise have a great trip and activation. VHF fun that can be had....even on the cheap. 1f44d

(I might even hear you on the webSDR's as I did with one of Craigs, (Sydthecat), SOTA activations a little while back.)


All the best,
Victor

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PostSubject: Re: VHF fun that can be had....even on the cheap.   VHF fun that can be had....even on the cheap. Icon_minitimeSun Sep 05, 2021 9:33 am

Will try that Victor, I am situated up 100m asl here, but my 5 ele beam is fixed to the north (as most SOTA is Lake District  and North Pennines) I can manually turn it , but I always seem to struggle in a southerly direction (there's something blocking my way but don't know what?) 

When up the hills I have a free Beam Turner (Elaine) so can easily point that 3 ele in any direction, The only reason for Great Orme is we can drive up and then its only a short walk to GZ. Cheers Tony
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Victor
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PostSubject: Re: VHF fun that can be had....even on the cheap.   VHF fun that can be had....even on the cheap. Icon_minitimeSun Sep 05, 2021 9:57 am

No that's fine Tony, I didn't mean your home QTH but when you SOTA activate at the Great Orme. VHF fun that can be had....even on the cheap. 1f44d 

Just quickly listening around 2m SSB at the moment, (before Grankids turn up - babysitting Rolling Eyes), and even on the humble homebrew Halo I've got a lot of the SE coast and near Continental signals booming in on competitions.

All good fun mate. Smile



Best regards,
Victor

(Better shoot off, the wife has given me the stern look! Very Happy)

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Tim Tom
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Equipment Used : Kernow beta 4100 mobile for now...

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PostSubject: Re: VHF fun that can be had....even on the cheap.   VHF fun that can be had....even on the cheap. Icon_minitimeFri Sep 17, 2021 9:36 am

Even though my main go to when playing radio is now HF, I still keep my cheep little baofeng in the drivers door pocket of the car and a little dual band mag mount in the boot, just incase I'm parked up waiting for someone or somthing I can stick that on and see if I can hit a local repeater.

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PostSubject: Re: VHF fun that can be had....even on the cheap.   VHF fun that can be had....even on the cheap. Icon_minitimeFri Sep 17, 2021 10:21 am

That's great to hear Tim. VHF fun that can be had....even on the cheap. 1f44d 

Sometimes the repeaters can be devoid of life but you'd be surprised how many operators keep an 'ear out' on some of them. This often results in mobile stations trying to fire up a repeater and before they know it they have a great conversation with another mobile or home based station.

I've recently made a concerted effort to have at least a couple of radios listening to different repeaters in my area just for such events.

A broken English 5/9 report on HF can be exciting but it's great to simply have a chat with a fellow Ham on the local repeater. Something that can be done on a simple cheap handheld thanks to the wonderful guys that setup and maintain the repeater network.


All the best,
Victor
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wisteela
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Call Sign : 26-CT-3289
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Equipment Used : Floureon FC200, and Retevis RT667
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PostSubject: Re: VHF fun that can be had....even on the cheap.   VHF fun that can be had....even on the cheap. Icon_minitimeFri Sep 17, 2021 11:56 am

Fantastic stuff.

73 M7TUD
Mansfield, Nottinghamshire

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Ivy Mike
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Call Sign : 26CT4113/G1HWY
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Equipment Used : CRT SS9900, President Bill....ICOM, 705, 7100, 7300, 9700, Kuhne QO-100 up and down converters, Elecraft K2. Antennas EA Cobweb, Hustler 6BTV
Age : 66

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PostSubject: Re: VHF fun that can be had....even on the cheap.   VHF fun that can be had....even on the cheap. Icon_minitimeFri Sep 17, 2021 1:35 pm

When I used to cycle to work I could often work through french 70cms repeaters.
This was up on top of the 600foot Downs here and best one I heard was down near southern France.
These days the local 70cms repeater is dead apart from a club night.

Been some reasonable dx on 2 and 70 FT8 recently.
Worked Scotland, Norway, Northern Island, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Holland on 2metres.
Worked Norway, Sweden, Holland, Germany and Denmark on 70cms.

Run 50watts on 2metres and 35watts on 70cms both to a 21ele Create log periodic.

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PostSubject: Re: VHF fun that can be had....even on the cheap.   VHF fun that can be had....even on the cheap. Icon_minitimeFri Sep 17, 2021 2:40 pm

Hi Paul, (wisteela), M7TUD,

Glad you enjoyed it and after looking at your QRZ page you seem to be just the man to experience stuff like this with your collection of 2m/70cm handies. VHF fun that can be had....even on the cheap. 1f44d

Maybe you've already experienced a bit of tropospheric propagation like this?

If not then it might be worth popping in a repeater or two into one of those handsets from further afield. Who knows, maybe one morning on a bit of lift we might even catch each other? Would be great!


All the best,
Victor
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PostSubject: Re: VHF fun that can be had....even on the cheap.   VHF fun that can be had....even on the cheap. Icon_minitimeFri Sep 17, 2021 2:50 pm

Hi Mike,

I've seen some of the vast distances people have achieved with FT8 on 2m via PSKreporter and it's all exciting stuff. Haven't yet given it a go even though I have 2m SSB as I don't feel my 2.5 Watts and simple Halo would herald much, but you never know. Well done with your distances. VHF fun that can be had....even on the cheap. 1f44d

Love the cycling story though especially with the French repeaters, the Dutch also have some great VHF/UHF setups on their bicycles often with full antenna setups!

It's a shame that a lot of the repeaters are quiet because if people were on them then this VHF/UHF phenomenon would be experienced more often. 


All the best,
Victor
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PostSubject: Re: VHF fun that can be had....even on the cheap.   VHF fun that can be had....even on the cheap. Icon_minitime

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