Ten Meters for Technicians and for All!
Solar Cycle 25 is Here!
During the solar cycle 24 peak in 2011, the 28 MHz band (10 meters) supported excellent world-wide F2 ionospheric propagation for the first time in many years. Many new radio amateurs for the first time enjoyed the thrills of daily long distance DX contacts with low power and relatively small antennas. Solar cycle 25 has already begun, and rising solar flux indices will bring increasing long distance daytime F layer propagation over the next few years. Sporadic E skip continues to occur randomly with peaks around December and June providing very strong skip signals over distances up to 1200 miles. Ten meters is unique—the band from 28.0-28.5 MHz being where all licensed US radio amateurs from Novice through Extra Class have voice and digital mode privileges.
28.0-28.3 MHz - CW and Digital
In the United States, the FCC has allocated the 28.0-28.3 MHz segment for CW (Morse code) and digital modes (up to 200 watts PEP for Novices and Technicians). Although knowledge of Morse code is no longer a license requirement, many new hams enjoy learning and operating CW. Even if you have not learned to send and receive code by ear, programs like the free CW Decoder and Ham Radio Deluxe will allow you to send CW with your computer keyboard and will even decode the received Morse code. When propagation is good you can hear CW propagation beacons from all over the world between 28.2 and 28.3 MHz.
The digital modes include radioteletype (RTTY), packet, and the new “soundboard” modes that include the popular FT8, PSK31, JT65, Olivia, WSPR and others. All licensed hams can now enjoy all these digital modes on 10 meters by connecting a computer to a SSB transceiver using an MFJ-1205, RIGblaster, SignaLink or a similar inexpensive homebrew sound card interface.
28.3-28.5 MHz - Novice and Technician SSB
The 28.3-28.5 MHz segment is where U.S. Novices and Technicians may operate SSB voice using up to 200 watts PEP. The SSB Calling frequency is 28.400 MHz. During the 11-year solar cycle maximum, daily contacts using low power are common from Northern California towards Europe and the east coast USA in the mornings and towards Japan, Australia and the Pacific Islands in the afternoons.
28.5-29.7 MHz - General Class and Above
You will need a General or higher class license to operate above 28.5 MHz. 28.680 MHz is the slow scan television frequency, 29.3 to 29.5 MHz is reserved for satellites, and FM repeaters and simplex operate between 29.5 and 29.7 MHz.
Ten Meter Equipment
New hams who only have a VHF/UHF radio will be looking for a 10 meter radio. Here are a few options:
Several 10 meter only radios in the lower 20-50 watt range are on the market around the $200 price point, such as the Anytone AT-6666, MFJ-9410, Radio Shack HTX-10, HTX-100 and others. Avoid AM/FM only radios that lack SSB, and avoid ham radios that have been modified (illegally) for CB as they might not be easily restored to 10 meters.
New all HF band radios are advertised in QST magazine and sold by many distributors like DX Engineering, Gigaparts and Ham Radio Outlet. Prices range from around $600 for the basic 100 watt entry level ICOM IC-718, Yaesu FT-891 and up depending on features. Novices and Technicians who follow this route can access all the other HF bands when they upgrade their license.
Used all-band HF radios may be found for sale in the range of $100 and up depending on their age and condition on our club swap page, eHam, qrz.com qth.com, and at local hamfests. Older radios may not include the 12, 17, 30 and 60 meter “WARC” bands or may use vacuum tubes that are getting harder to find, but they still can provide good service on the 10 meter band.
Ten Meter Antennas
Ten meter antennas are conveniently moderate in size, ranging from a small 3 foot diameter magnetic loop antenna or a 8 foot vertical whip to a 16 foot long homebrew dipole or a multi-element beam if you have the space. Many CB antennas will work on 10 meters—some can be trimmed a few inches shorter to get an optimum match. Your antenna will perform best if raised above your roof and nearby obstacles.
There is increasing activity on 10 meters: US and DX stations during the daylight and evening hours; contests and awards for the 10-10 International Net; and our local weekly River City ARCS 10 meter net on 28.420 MHz USB Wednesday nights at 8:30 pm Pacific Time.
For those who are interested, there is plenty more information at http://www.hamuniverse.com/10meterinformation.html
73 and see you on ten! Carol KP4MD, 10-10 Net #7616
Local Sacramento, CA area 10 meter activity may be heard on these frequencies:
ARRL 10 Meter Band Plan