Since the fall of 2011, the 28 MHz band (10 meters) has had excellent propagation for the first time in many years. 10 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. Many new hams are now for the first time enjoying the thrills of daily long distance DX contacts with low power and relatively small antennas.
The FCC has allocated the 28.0-28.3 MHz segment for CW 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.
The digital modes are radioteletype (RTTY), packet, and the new “soundboard” modes that include the popular 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-1273, RIGblaster, SignaLink or a similar inexpensive homebrew sound card interface.
The 28.3-28.5 MHz segment is where Novices and Technicians can operate voice using up to 200 watts PEP on SSB mode. Daily contacts using low power are common with Europe and the east coast in the mornings and with Japan, Australia and the Pacific Islands in the afternoons.
New hams who only have a VHF/UHF radio will be looking for a 10 meter radio. Here are a few options:
Ten meter antennas are conveniently moderate in size, ranging from a small 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.
There is now plenty of activity on 10 meters: US and DX stations all during the daylight 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 around 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 10!
Here are some local 10 meter signals that may be heard in the Sacramento area: