CW and SSB on VHF/UHF - Why Not?

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FeedForward

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For those who might be interested in CW and SSB on 2 meters and up...why not?
Take just CW for example. How difficult would it be for a manufacturer to provide a keying circuit to turn the carrier on and off in their FM transceivers? Now that every imaginable function can be programmed into a tiny chip, it seems like no effort or extra circuitry would be needed.

On the receive end, the FM gear would have to have a BFO/Product detector - not difficult at all. For SSB transmit, granted a few parts like a balanced modulator IC and a filter would be required.

For dedicated repeater guys, I hear you asking "what's the point"? What's the point of putting up a 300 foot tower and trying to work a guy 100 miles away on 160 meters? What's the point of WAS with 5 watts or less? I get that your average 2 meter ham isn't interested in CW or SSB. But manufacturers have decided for everyone else that CW and SSB will never again be used on VHF or UHF. I don't buy the story that it is an economics decision. They could just leave the holes in the pc board and I'd buy the parts myself, if it came to that.

I have nothing against FM or repeaters. But why dedicate a whole spectrum to channelized FM voice modes?

FF
 

WB4CS

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I'm not quite sure I understand exactly where you're going with this...

There are still new radios being made that do CW and SSB on VHF/UHF. The Kenwood TS 2000 is one that comes to mind, but there are others.

The VHF/UHF spectrum isn't "dedicated" to "channelized" FM voice. Per the FCC rules, you can operate CW on ANY frequency that you have privileges on. SSB can be used on any frequency that you have voice privileges on. For example this means that, while not the best operating practice, you can legally operate SSB or CW on 146.520.

VHF/UHF isn't "channelized" either. Sure, most repeaters are coordinated within either 15 kHz or 25 kHz "channels", but that's only to make coordination easier. You can legally operate FM simplex on any 2M/222/440/etc. frequency as long as it's in the voice bandplan. (In other words, don't operate FM in the CW portion of 2 Meters.)

Did I miss the point of your post? Or did this info help out a little?
 

ko6jw_2

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I have four all mode rigs. We have a 2 meter sideband net every Wednesday night. ARRL band plans include CW, SSB, weak signal and EME. And, don't forget AM. I think that equipment manufacturers reduce things to the lowest common denominator - FM via repeaters. I have heard people on the air who are confused by simplex. "Ah, is that a positive or negative shift?"

Unfortunately, to get all mode capabilities you have to buy an HF, 6m, 2m and 440 rig. That prices most people out of the market. Remember too, all equipment makers make their income off of commercial radios that use FM. Only a tiny segment of commercial users, if any, use SSB etc. Ironically, if you really wanted marrow band communications, that's exactly what you would use.
 

zz0468

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I have nothing against FM or repeaters. But why dedicate a whole spectrum to channelized FM voice modes?
There is already a lot of of SSB and CW activity on 2 meters and higher. There is already a bewildering preponderance of SSB and CW gear available, new and used. Your post is essentially a solution looking for a problem.
 

k8krh

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I operate ssb/cw on 2 meters. I run a FT857D.
The problem why many people who do not run it,is the FM market is where the money is, from hand helds to mobile transceivers and the use of repeaters. The initial license is technician, and of course they are flooded with fm literature and where do they jump to FM. You can buy a CHINESE H/T as low as $24 dollars or less for 2 meter fm and talk 50 miles or more on a repeater. A typical 2 meter ssb radio is $785 dollars big difference. Also believe it or not, memorize for the initial license get a license and what is 2 meter ssb?, I have heard that also.

MONEY speaks even in ham radio.

DOCTOR/795
 

robertmac

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While there are those that do use CW and SSB on 2 meters, I do not have the space to set up the necessary tower or beam to communicate over 100 miles. But there are radios, as mentioned, that allow all mode communications on 2 m and 70 cms. so I am also not certain of the question posed. Why not, as it is being done already.
 

WB4CS

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Agreed with Doctor795... I've had actual arguments on the air with people who don't believe that it's legal to use SSB on 2 Meters. "2 Meters is FM only!" they say.

I've had that same argument with newer hams that don't realize that their Tech license does not allow them on the FM portion of 10 Meters. They assume that since their new Yaesu quad band radio does 10/6/2/70 FM they must be allowed to use 10 FM.

Part of that is newer hams memorizing the test answers and not understanding the material. It's also from people's inability to actually look up what their operating privileges are, or they simply forget.
 

prcguy

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You don't need a big tower or beam to work long distance on 2m, FM or SSB. I don't do 2m SSB all that much but every time I do it amazes me how far you can get with a minimal setup.

For 2m SSB I use a pair of stacked horizontal loops that are about 12" dia and spaced 48" apart. When camping this antenna is about 15ft off the ground and with 100w on 2m I have been getting consistent contacts out to about 250mi. This is with no repeater, no tropo ducting and I can usually talk to the same people at these extreme distances pretty much any time of the year.

The interesting thing (to me) is SSB is technically superior for weak signal, long distance VHF/UHF mostly due to the narrower BW and resulting lower noise floor in the receiver. However, many times I've asked the weak guy on the other end to switch to FM briefly and we usually communicate with about the same signal to noise and sometimes FM mode is better. I've also found its radio dependent and probably due to how the mfr treats the FM vs SSB sections of the radio.

I had the pleasure of doing this test with zz0468 over a maybe 60mi path where we could work 2m with flea power but at the time we both had fairly large antennas and I've since traded my big Yagi off.

So get out there and try 2m SSB with whatever equipment you have and see how far you get. If you make an impressive contact please switch to FM mode, I'll be very curious how others do and I suspect some may report better signals in FM mode.
prcguy

While there are those that do use CW and SSB on 2 meters, I do not have the space to set up the necessary tower or beam to communicate over 100 miles. But there are radios, as mentioned, that allow all mode communications on 2 m and 70 cms. so I am also not certain of the question posed. Why not, as it is being done already.
 
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n5ims

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Band Plan
2 Meters (144-148 MHz)
144.00-144.05 EME (CW)
144.05-144.10 General CW and weak signals
144.10-144.20 EME and weak-signal SSB
144.200 National calling frequency
144.200-144.275 General SSB operation
I would say that if the ARRL Band Plan for 2 meters has areas set aside for CW and SSB, there's a very good chance that it's 100% legal and being used by many hams in the US.

There are a few 2 meter SSB radios. While most are extended bands on higher end HF radios like the TS-2000 mentioned earlier, there are a few single band radios available with SSB (such as this MFJ MFJ Enterprises Inc.). Some hints on how to operate there can be found here N2LRB.com.

One thing to remember is that although most VHF FM operation uses vertically polarized antennas, most VHF SSB operation uses horizontally polarized antennas. For beams, most allow you to install them either way but you can also find some designed to operate either way (M2 Antennas 2MXP20 2 Meter Dual Polarity Beams 2MXP20 - Free Shipping on Orders Over $99 at DX Engineering).
 

zz0468

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I had the pleasure of doing this test with zz0468 over a maybe 60mi path where we could work 2m with flea power but at the time we both had fairly large antennas and I've since traded my big Yagi off.
That was a very interesting and surprising test we ran that evening. There is a theoretical improvement in SSB over FM, the amount depends on receiver bandwidth. That improvement only became apparent when we faded signals down below the point where FM ceased to work. At signal levels above that point, FM was clearly superior, even at very weak signal levels.

We proved two things that evening... One is that the SSB improvement is there, but not nearly as dramatic as expected. We also proved that FM is very capable as a weak signal DX mode.
 

Token

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As many here I am not sure of what the OPs question is about. There is a lot of SSB and CW activity on 2 meters and up, although certainly it is not as common as FM activity. I have radios at the house that set on 144.200, 432.100, and 1296.100 MHz (the SSB calling freq on each of those bands) 24/7. Other radios get turned on from time to time that cover the SSB calling freqs on other bands. In my mobiles that include SSB capability the calling freq is always a programmed scan.

For that matter, what about AM? The old AM calling freq (144.400) has been killed by APRS and the new Oscar subband. However, like SSB and CW, it is legal to use in any voice segment of the band, and we (local hams in the high desert) often fire up old gear and work a little AM, just because we can. Like any other simplex operation (AM, SSB, CW, or FM) stay away from repeater inputs (probably best to hang in the simplex segments) and make sure you are on a clear freq and have at it.

However, one thing the OP said might be a good point to pursue, CW with a FM TX. This really does not work out well much of the time. CW requires a pretty stable signal, and shift, drift, or sag on the TX frequency can be very apparent on receive. FM transmitters often do not have the same requirement, and some FM TXs have severe frequency drift during initial key up. This has little or no impact on normal FM communications, but would be very disturbing trying to use that carrier for CW. It amounts to many FM transmitters being unusable as a CW transmitter without modification or change.

T!
 

WB4CS

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Actually, CW over FM (or more accurately Morse Code over FM) can be easily done. Almost every repeater can/does ID in Morse Code over FM. The FM carrier stays up between the code characters, and the code is sent as an audio tone.

I seem to remember years ago seeing a device that you could buy and connect a key/paddle to it and it would send out the code characters as audio tones to the radio's MIC input. You could set a delay to control the PTT that would control how long to keep the carrier transmitting in between characters (basically QSK). I have no idea what it was called, who made it, where I saw it, or if it's still being made, but they did exist. I remember a local club about 15 years ago using one to send Morse Code over 2M FM simplex to help members practice for the 5 WPM code test.
 
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Token

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Actually, CW over FM (or more accurately Morse Code over FM) can be easily done. Almost every repeater can/does ID in Morse Code over FM. The FM carrier stays up between the code characters, and the code is sent as an audio tone.
I think the OP was talking about ICW (Interrupted Continuous Wave), actually keying the RF of an FM transmitter on and off. The technique you are talking about would be what is often called MCW (Modulated Continuous Wave).

T!
 

k9rzz

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CW/SSB here in the midwest kind of waxes and wanes. There's a bunch of hardcore guys who are always present, and then the rest of us who come and go. We have an 2m AM net here locally and I recall when there was a 2m RTTY repeater!
 

KG4NEL

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For those who might be interested in CW and SSB on 2 meters and up...why not?
Take just CW for example. How difficult would it be for a manufacturer to provide a keying circuit to turn the carrier on and off in their FM transceivers? Now that every imaginable function can be programmed into a tiny chip, it seems like no effort or extra circuitry would be needed.

On the receive end, the FM gear would have to have a BFO/Product detector - not difficult at all. For SSB transmit, granted a few parts like a balanced modulator IC and a filter would be required.

For dedicated repeater guys, I hear you asking "what's the point"? What's the point of putting up a 300 foot tower and trying to work a guy 100 miles away on 160 meters? What's the point of WAS with 5 watts or less? I get that your average 2 meter ham isn't interested in CW or SSB. But manufacturers have decided for everyone else that CW and SSB will never again be used on VHF or UHF. I don't buy the story that it is an economics decision. They could just leave the holes in the pc board and I'd buy the parts myself, if it came to that.

I have nothing against FM or repeaters. But why dedicate a whole spectrum to channelized FM voice modes?

FF
My first introduction to DX was on 6 meters SSB. It was a ton of fun.

I'd like to try 2 meters SSB (or AM, for that matter), but it seems to be a wasteland around here.

IMHO - a lot of the manufacturer interest in all-mode VHF+ rigs died off when the satellites using linear transponders died off as well. I got into the hobby around the time when AO-40 was launched, I think if that had met its design lifespan, we'd be seeing the next generation of radios such as the FT-847 or IC-820...
 

K9DAK

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Good Timing

This thread had good timing . . . check and see what's happening on the air this weekend during the ARRL September VHF Contest!

September VHF

Between yard work and dog-sitting I'll be on my FT-847 as much as possible on 6M, 2M and 70cm SSB.

Good luck in the contest!
 

KB7MIB

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This is the bandplan for 2m in Arizona.
Arizona Frequency Coordination Committee: 144 MHz Bandplan

A Google search for radio makes & models that cover CW/SSB or all modes on the various bands should provide you with a decent list of new and used equipment. (Finding some of the older single-band all-mode radios in working order or that are worth repairing may be another question.)

I remember wanting Icom's 275/375/475/575/1275 single-band all-mode radios way back when. Now, I want a Kenwood TS-B2000X with the RC-2000 remote head for mobile use. Maybe if I ever win the lottery...
 

N8OHU

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I remember wanting Icom's 275/375/475/575/1275 single-band all-mode radios way back when. Now, I want a Kenwood TS-B2000X with the RC-2000 remote head for mobile use. Maybe if I ever win the lottery...
I remember wanting the IC-900 setup that Icom had at one time. :)
 
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