2 Meter SidebandBy Jose B Rivera - N2LRB
August 23, 2012 - East Harlem, NY - Recently I decided to check in on any possible 2 meter sideband activity using my Yaesu FT-857D multiband multimode radio. I was surprised to not only find some activity, but a lot of activity. Well, more than there use to be anyway. Ever thought of trying out 2 meter sideband? If so, keep reading to learn just a little more of what it is all about.
What is 2 Meter Sideband?
2 meter sideband is working the Upper Single Sideband mode anywhere from 144.200-275 Mhz. This band and mode is a lot like working the HF SSB band only it’s on 2 meters. Even though the ARRL Band Plan from 2 meters has the SSB going from 144.200-144.275 Mhz, do not be surprised to hear stations from 144.175. to 144.300 Mhz. In fact a group of older gentlemen meet every weekday morning on 144.176 in the New York City, New Jersey area.
What is needed to work 2 Meter Sideband?
In order to work 2 Meter Sideband you must have either an all mode radio which receives and transmits 2 meters or a dedicated 2 meter SSB radio (older models of ham gear). Your regular 2 meter handheld or 2 meter mobile FM radio does not transmit or receive on sideband. You will also need some kind of horizontally polarized antenna. Most 2 meter sideband operators use loops, quads, dipoles or beams. You could use a vertical antenna, but your will not hear or be heard as well as with a horizontally polarized antenna. Some hams also have amplifiers to up their wattage. The combination of a beam antenna (the more elements the better) along with an amplifier of even just 200 watts output can make for a very strong signal. Having a Pre-Amp either at the base of your antenna or in the shack will allow you to pick up weak signals. So a pre-amp is a good thing to have.
How much activity?
Unlike 2 meter repeaters where activity is plentiful, 2 meter SSB tends to have a lot less hams operating on the air. This can be attributed to most 2 meter equipment being FM and not having an SSB mode. So in New York City you may come across 50 hams on 2 meter SSB or the span of a few months. That does not mean that 2 meter SSB is not worth it or that contacts are limited to the local area. Just like on the HF bands, the ionosphere plays a role in distance communications. When the conditions are right contacts as far away as 1,000 miles or more can be made, thought the most common is from 25-300 miles.
When to get on the air?
This writer’s experience with this mode of operation is that most activity can be found in the early evenings after most hams come home from work. Weekends are another time to get on and hear other hams rag chewing. And as mentioned above, there are now two morning nets in the New York City area and they both start at 8:00 AM. Look for the nets on 144.176 (older gentlemen) and on 144.205 (younger gentlemen)
One fun activity for 2 meters sideband hams is to collect grid squares. The U.S. in divided into small squares. Just like collecting countries is a challenge for HF hams, collecting grid squares is also a challenge for 2 meter sideband hams. And course there are a few contest through out the year in which operators garner points for make as many contacts as possible in different situations (base, portable, etc…).
Overall, 2 meter sideband can be challenging, fun, and a great way to make new friends.