VHF or UHF for simplex communication?

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Danny37

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I've always heard UHF is better for urban and congested areas as it penetrates buildings better but vhf is better for open terrain and hilly areas as its longer wavelength always it to travel further in range. so my question is if your camping or hiking, what would be ideal in an environment that has alot of trees and is also hilly? UHF or VHF?
 

CommJunkie

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If you're going to use ham freqs, I'd use 2m just as a preference. In close proximity, you aren't going to notice much of a difference.
 

LtDoc

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The first one, about UHF penetrating buildings, etc, better than VHF is not true. The higher you go in frequency the more it can be attenuated/reflected by non-metalic things. UHF does 'bounce' between buildings more than VHF will and that may be part of that misconception. UHF is more 'line of sight' than VHF is. Not by a huge amount, but still depends on 'sight' for communications.
So which should you use? What's the most prevalent in your area, that's the one that will be used most.
All of this is 'relative'. Whichever band is the 'best' can certainly change depending on the situation and circumstances and exactly what you want to do.
- 'Doc
 

mmckenna

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I've always heard UHF is better for urban and congested areas as it penetrates buildings better but vhf is better for open terrain and hilly areas as its longer wavelength always it to travel further in range. so my question is if your camping or hiking, what would be ideal in an environment that has alot of trees and is also hilly? UHF or VHF?
We ride ATV's and Side-by-Sides all around Northern California, which, unlike what you see on TV, is hills, mountains and lots of trees. Before I was able to get the rest of the group to get their amateur radio licenses, we used GMRS. Everyone in the family who rode had a Motorola HT600 or HT1000 UHF radio. It worked well and served our needs well. The drawback is that there are not as many GMRS repeaters as there are 2 meter repeaters. After a few years, I was able to get them interested in getting their ham tickets. We switched from UHF/GMRS to the amateur 2 meter band. Coverage is marginally better, hand held to hand held. We do have 2 meter repeater coverage in most areas we ride, and we installed mobile radios in all the side by sides. The higher power, permanent antennas and the slight edge gained by VHF serves us well. Having a better chance of finding a repeater if needed helps.

If you are just looking to communicate between people, then UHF will work fine. If you need to hit a repeater, you need to decide what covers your area best and choose accordingly. For our area, 2 meter repeaters are more prevalent, so that is primarily what drove our choice.
 

AgentCOPP1

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You'll definitely want to get 2 meter. It tends to do a lot better in rural environments and it will most likely go farther than UHF would. Plus, it really depends on how far apart you plan on being. If you're not gonna be much farther apart than 2 or 3 miles, UHF would be better simply due to the fact that you can have shorter antennas (which makes it more portable). However, I've consistently noticed that 2 meters goes noticeably farther for me in rural places. If you have a UHF and VHF repeater in your area, then I'd say that there will be hardly any difference in performance, but you stated that you just want simplex so I'm assuming that you don't have any.
 

n5ims

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I've always heard UHF is better for urban and congested areas as it penetrates buildings better but vhf is better for open terrain and hilly areas as its longer wavelength always it to travel further in range. so my question is if your camping or hiking, what would be ideal in an environment that has alot of trees and is also hilly? UHF or VHF?
The real answer is "It depends", and that is based on many factors that vary from one area to another. The real answer could be what repeater has the best coverage where you and who you're wanting to talk with are (with linked repeaters, the answer may even be both with you on one band and who you're talking to on the other). With simplex, it could also be different depending on what conditions each of you are under at the time.

While I understand your desire for a single, works-everytime answer to your question, this may not match the reality of the many factors that will be at play. The ideal answer is probably for you both to have dual-band radios with pre-programmed frequencies on both bands and have a pre-arraigned schedule to check them. If the VHF frequency won't make it, perhaps the UHF one will. Hopefully your radios will allow them to scan both bands so whichever the call goes out on you'll hear it. If not, you may have to manually switch bands often so you can catch any calls made on the other band.

The important thing is the "schedule". This doesn't have to be anything really fancy, but should be often enough that if there's trouble, help can be gotten without too long of a wait. Perhaps something like "contact me every xx mins, first on channel 1 and if no answer, on channel 2 and keep trying, switching back and forth until contact is made" and channel 1 would be on one band and channel 2 on the other. The timeframe would be adjusted based on your activity. If both are in camp where safety is generally assured, this may be several hours, but if doing more risky activities (hiking in unknown areas for example) shorter timeframes, say every 15 mins or so, may be more appropriate.

You both should also know to try to improve your locations, if possible, when contact can't be made. This may be by moving to higher ground, away from dense foliage, etc. If you can have repeaters programmed in as well as simplex frequencies this may be helpful. Just increase the channels checked so all are checked when contact is desired. The repeater(s) may allow you to monitor multiple frequencies as well by asking local hams to monitor for you and passing messages that contact is being attempted. This could allow one party to remain on the repeater frequency until the other party returns after trying the other programmed channels so you don't play "frequency tag".
 

Danny37

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Wow well I guess I'll try both in the fall, hopefully I'm on my feet by then. Around me UHF is very popular so I guess I'll go with that. thanks guys.
 

PhotoJim

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The simple answer: have dual band radios and run tests. Use whatever works best. Bear in mind that what "works best" may also be affected by the local traffic in the area. In an area with a lot of VHF simplex traffic, UHF might be better because it's emptier.
 

KR7CQ

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When asked this question my answer is for those who find themselves asking this question who don't live in rural areas, use UHF.

Will VHF give greater range? Sure, if you are in an open rural area. But in the city, it probably won't.

I don't have a mobile radio in my truck yet and use my HT to hit repeaters when out and about. From inside the truck, VHF hits repeaters less than two miles away poorly. UHF is full quieting at ten miles. Same radio, same truck, different bands (stock FT-60R antenna and others). Larger waves don't do as well with nearby metal objects, bottom line. That's why your smart phone signals (700MHz up) work flawlessly inside of cars, metal frame buildings, in the middle of downtown in a large cities, etc.
 
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