Amateur Radio Manual/Amateur Radio Bands
Amateur radio operators use various radio frequencies, which are divided into bands. These bands are a subsection of radio frequencies, grouped together, and sequential.
While these bands generally have the same first couple of digits in common (14 MHz, 10 MHz, etc.), this does not hold true for higher frequencies of bands, such as 144 MHz (which spans up to 146 MHz).
The bands are most usually referred to by their wavelength, or the physical length of one wave. For example, 160 meters (1.8 MHz band) has a wavelength of 160 meters. The length from one crest to the next of the wave is physically 160 meters in a vacuum.
160 meter band resides from 1.8 MHz to 2 MHz; which is directly above the AM broadcast band. The entire band here is allowed to be used by Extra, Advanced (defunct), and General licensees (USA). It can also be used by Basic with honers and Advanced qualification holders in Canada.
Antennas for this band tend to be very large, occupying several hundred meters in length, and many meters above ground, in order to get the best propagation characteristics (Half wavelength above ground being optimal for dipole antennas). Ground wave is very reliable on this band for long distances, much the same as the AM Broadcast band.
Operation during summer months can be difficult due to the large amounts of noise present. Operation during wintertime months is usually the most successful. This band is very prone to noise from far off lightning storms, which is why wintertime operations are clearer.
The 160m band plan is as follows:
1.800 - 2.000 MHz: Continuous Wave (CW a.k.a. Morse Code; can be used throughout the entire band)
1.800 - 1.810 MHz: Digital Modes (PSK31, PACTOR, AMTOR, RTTY, PACKET)
1.810 QRP (Low Power) CW
1.843 - 2.000 Slow Scan Television (SSTV) and other wideband modes
1.910 - Single Sideband (SSB; most commonly Lower Sideband (LSB))
1.995 - 2.000 Experimental
1.999 - 2.000 Beacons
The 80m band plan starts at 3.5 MHZ and runs through to 4.0 MHz. Optimal performance is acheived in the night time hours as the D and E layers lift. General, Advanced (defunct), and Extra classes are allowed voice and CW in certain parts of the band. See the ARRL band plan for details. In addition to the above, Novice and Technician have privilages in CW only betwean 3.525 and 3.600 MHz. The Basic with Honers and Advanced Qualification in Canada have full use of the band.
The 80m band plan is as follows:
3.500 - 3.600 Continuous Wave (CW) and other Digital Modes
3.570 - 3.600 Radio Teletype (RTTY) and other Digital Modes
3.590 RTTY Long Distance (DX)
3.790 - 3.800 DX Window
3.845 - Slow Scan Television (SSTV)
3.885 - Amplitude Modulation (AM) Calling Frequency
60 Meters is the new kid on the block. It isn't so much of a band as it is a few "channels" distributed around 5.3 MHz. These channels are:
- 5.3305 MHz
- 5.3465 MHz
- 5.357 MHz
- 5.3715 MHz
- 5.4035 MHz
There is a maximum power limit of 100 Watts PEP and the General, Advanced and Extra classes are allowed to use the band. In Canada, the Basic with honours and Advanced classes are allowed to use the band. USB, CW, RTTY, PSK31, and other digimodes are allowed.