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Ten Meters for Technicians and for All!

Sporadic E skip propagation
Around the fall of 2011, the 28 MHz band (10 meters) the solar cycle 24 peak supported excellent world-wide F2 ionospheric propagation for the first time in many years.  Many new hams for the first time enjoyed the thrills of daily long distance DX contacts with low power and relatively small antennas.  Although the next solar cycle peak is not expected until 2022, sporadic E skip occurs randomly every December and June providing strong signals over distances up to 1200 miles.

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. 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.

The digital modes are 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-1204RIGblaster, 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. During the 11-year solar cycle maximum, 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.

Introduction to the 10 meter amateur radio band

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 are on the market in the $200 range, such as the Anytone AT-5555MFJ-9410, Radio Shack HTX-10, HTX-100 and others. Avoid 10 meter radios that only have AM/FM and no SSB modes and avoid radios that have been illegally modified for CB as they may not be easily restored to 10 meters.
  • New all band HF 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 Alinco DX-SR9ICOM IC-718, Yaesu FT-891 and up depending on features. One benefit for Novices and Technicians going this route will be access to all the other HF bands when they upgrade their license.
  • Used all-band HF radios can be had in the range of $100 and up online and at ham swap meets. Some older radios may not include the 12, 17 and 30 meter “WARC” bands and may use vacuum tubes that are getting harder to find replacements for, but they still can provide good service on the 10 meter band.

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!

Carol KP4MD
10-10 Net #7616

Anytone AT5555 Review

Here are some local 10 meter signals that may be heard in the Sacramento area:

Freq. MHz Mode Callsign Description
28.055 CW AI6UO Slow Speed CW Net - Tues. & Thurs. 10:00 am Pacific Time
28.200 CW W6WX/B Mt. Umunhum, CA - NCDXF Beacon
28.2313 CW KE6TE/B Elk Grove, CA - Beacon
28.240 CW WE6Z/B Granite Bay, CA - Beacon
28.2418 CW K6JCR/B Roseville, CA - Beacon
28.250 CW K6FRC/B2 Sutter, CA - Beacon
28.265 CW N7SCQ/B Dixon, CA - Beacon
28.300 CW K6FRC/B Tracy, CA - Beacon
28.420 USB N6NA River City ARCS 10 meter net - Wednesdays ~ 8:30 pm Pacific Time
28.480 USB W6HIR RAMS 10 meter net - Sundays 8:00 pm Pacific Time
29.620 FM N6JSL/R Auburn, CA - Repeater
29.660 FM KG6TXA/R Copperopolis, CA - Repeater