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General Category => Amateur Radio => Topic started by: Matt285 on April 02, 2021, 1710 UTC

Title: 2M SSB - Is it worth the cost?
Post by: Matt285 on April 02, 2021, 1710 UTC
So I may have brought this up in the past, but I find myself thinking about it again. I have a Yaesu 818 and recently purchased a 65 watt amp to get out a bit better signal on FM simplex, however I seem to be in a bit of a dead zone when it comes to VHF, at least to the West of me. There is a net operated about 25 miles from me once a week and I have checked in several times using my portable satellite antenna on 5 watts. I've always been fascinated by 2M SSB/CW even though I know its not super active. I have recently thought about getting a 14 element yagi, but it would only be up at around 25' . I will also need to get a rotator, but I would like to have one anyway for other experiments. Based on the low height and max power of 65 watts I'm wondering what I might expect and whether or not it's worth the investment?  Let me know what you think.
Title: Re: 2M SSB - Is it worth the cost?
Post by: Stretchyman on April 02, 2021, 1849 UTC
Good question and something I'm currently getting on with too.

I was warned it would be a lonely hobby and Yes there's not many on 2m SSB unless there's a contest but I've zero interest in contesting but useful to find how far you can get.

A 65W amp won't be much use and suggest far more power, I've gone for 300W as there's a decent kit available but 1KW is just as simple just a bit more expensive..

Your antenna is decent (better than mine)as I've only got room for 6 elements (have both horiz and very to compare). Your height is far too low but does of course depends on the terrain. Height is everything at these frequencies..

I know you're in the US and I'm in the UK but things won't be that much different I guess?

Title: Re: 2M SSB - Is it worth the cost?
Post by: Matt285 on April 02, 2021, 1915 UTC
Yeah. One of these days I'm hoping to have a tower. I would be curious about a link to the amplifier you were talking about, although I don't know If I would have the know how to build something like that. Ive built a couple QRP transceivers in the past, but it was just following instructions and making good solder joints more or less.
Title: Re: 2M SSB - Is it worth the cost?
Post by: Stretchyman on April 03, 2021, 1124 UTC

You have to wind a few coils, very easy..
Title: Re: 2M SSB - Is it worth the cost? That depends, but it is fun!
Post by: ThaDood on April 05, 2021, 0528 UTC
In the mid-90's, I paid about $1,100.00 total into 2M SSB. That includes a used Kenwood TS-711A, a Mirage modified 2M 140W repeater linear amp, a Hamtronics 2M GaAS FET preamp kit, LMR-400 coax, and a homebrew copper 5 element HORZ beam. At that time, I knew several people into 2M SSB, and even 432MHz SSB, and that 140W PEP talked weekly into the St Lawrence Seaway, CT, NJ, PA, and even into D.C. off the back of the beam. At the time, I was living near the bottom of the Newtown Creek Valley, my beam was only 30ft up, yet just cleared the rooftops and trees close by. +300 miles, without DX enhancement, seemed to be the norm. It seemed to be about on-par with my 6M SSB system. 432MHz SSB, with 30W and a 3 element beam, got me out to Erie, PA, or about 175 miles. So, was it worth it? At the time, I'd thought YES, plus the experience that I've gained in doing it that I can apply today. Just don't ask how much I've spent on 222MHz FM and 1.2GHz. I probably should include the Astron RS-70M power supply, as well, that powered the rigs and amps.
Title: Re: 2M SSB - Is it worth the cost?
Post by: BoomboxDX on April 06, 2021, 0143 UTC
Not a ham, so you can take my opinion with a grain of salt....

I'd bag the 2M SSB idea, as even the ham forums don't talk much about DXing SSB on 2M.

Maybe put the time, effort, and money into 6 meters instead? Besides, when 6 meters is in, it seems that guys sometimes get worldwide contacts. Not so on 2M. Even 2M FM is mostly MIA in my metro. Tune across the band with a good multibander and it's hiss. In 1990 it would have been 2-3 QSOs heard at least, even well into the evening.
Title: Re: 2M SSB - Is it worth the cost?
Post by: Matt285 on April 06, 2021, 1154 UTC
You definitely have a point there. I do have 6m capability now in all modes and most HF transceivers all cover 6M. I haven't heard much activity on 6 for quite some time now. I had a small moxon about 10 years ago and was able to work all over the place on the band.
Title: Re: 2M SSB - Is it worth the cost?
Post by: Traveling Wave on April 06, 2021, 1752 UTC
IZS4, I have noticed that the FT8 phenomenon has taken over 6 meters in the last few years. Last year here in WNY, May thru August usually had more FT8 signals present on 6 meters and fewer SSB phone signals. It seems to me that many more people are using FT8's weak signal capabilities than are using phone.
Title: Re: 2M SSB - Is it worth the cost?
Post by: Matt285 on April 07, 2021, 1125 UTC
Yes. I think digital modes have gotten much more common on all the bands. I see a lot of activity on 10 & 30 meters also. I'm not a fan of digital modes myself. To each their own though. It is an effective method.
Title: Re: 2M SSB - Is it worth the cost?
Post by: NQC on June 02, 2021, 1552 UTC
Hey All.

I guess I'll chime in. 2M SSB was a LOT of fun. But even  "back in the day" it was  never very active compared to FM. Maybe a net or two and a bit of  other traffic  in the evenings. On    FM you had a long wait to get in on a number of frequencies

A decent 2M SSB station  could work from here in Boston to NYC most every night, without enhanced conditions.

I have been off 2 M (FM and SSB) for a LONG time now. But even FM seems pretty dead. A few years back while in NYC (!!) on a Friday night I scanned FM and found near zero.

One of the biggest factors of course , is the antenna / height and to a lesser extent , the power level.

A 2m SSB signal needs to travel unimpeded in order to go into "development". Clearing local  obstacles (immediate trees/ structures) is really desirable. Clearing  the more distant terrain is good too. The closer and higher the hills, especially in the wrong direction, can cause a radio shadow.

So  2M SSB  ,being essentially aimed 90 deg. toward the horizon requires decent clearance.6 M being  a SKY wave (at WHATEVER take off angle) still requires some height, but may be less fussy if all things are "equalized" re 2M physics vs. 6 M physics.

In flat  Florida, height   really shouldn't be as   big  an issue as it was in the hilly Northeast.   Just clearing the trees and local blockages ie large / close buildings may cut it.

My REAL concern is activity. Outside of Field day and the scheduled VHF contests  I am not sure how much would be left. Even DURING those events, I may think activity may be kind of thin.But I have been off for so long I wouldn't want to say for sure.

FWIW, 900 Mhz amateur radio  debacle  here  went from ZERO, to very active (with a number of VERY BIG mountaintop /skyscraper  repeaters) to ZERO,dead, buried in 10 months or so (!).

 Even the guys that built the repeaters bailed out.I LOVED using it ( I had   some bullet proof  Moto  HT and mobile gear, a  big  commercial fractal  panel antenna and  lots of home brew antennas) when it was active, but it didn't last :'(. Kind of an exceptionally sped up version of the 2 M band story - up, big, down , "dead".

Is it "worth it" to put up a station that may give great sanctification and fun, but for only a few days a year ? Only you can answer that. I'd HATE to discourage anyone from using any band.

I am not longer able to put antennas on my large flat apt building roof. But a few years ago I DID have a small "farm" up there .I had nothing for 2 M SSB- to me it was  not active enough to justify using the mast  space ,I put up a "more" active 6 M band  antenna instead .You may not have this problem

 I didn't invest 6 M  very heavily either. But 6 is a much better "value" , at least to me. I had a dipole and used barefoot power
of around 15 watts on peak. I had a blast, but only on 6 or 10 days a year when things were open strong enough for my tiny flea station  to be able to work.Also I used to hear a LOT  more  (and also more often) than I could actually  work.Just LISTENING on 6 was a GAS.

  6 is skywave, while 2 is tropo/scatter etc. I  got a FAR larger coverage area on 6 (ie Portugal,most of US), even if it was on  a "10 day a year"  small station."   It seemed the better way to go, at least for me at that time. Your mileage may vary.

IF I COULD (which I CAN'T) I would build  a "better"   6M station with a GOOD  antenna and decent power. I  still wouldn't go TOO nuts ( on something that may now  work TWENTY days  per year , rather than ten :))). But I would definitely go a bit bigger that what I had  before, IF  I could do it again.

I LOVED studying the propagation on 2M  and did a LOT of QRP on SSB and horizontal  FM.

And now , the " Complaint Dept."- I am a rag chewer. A quick signal report on 20, 15, 12,  10 (or 6 or 2) is GREAT. AWESOME ,I just "worked" India (or wherever) . Now what ? I really didn't get to know the person and may never "work" him again.

DX on 6 (or 2) is a REAL TREAT and a really big , fun accomplishment. But when Dx is in, no one wants to talk very long , they want to move on and fill the log. And while I really "get it" as being a lot of  fun for SOME folks (more power to 'em ! ),   I  didn't want to be  just a "log filler", even on rare dx . Especially to areas that I had already worked once or twice before ,over any period of time.

That's why I loved 40 NVIS.With  7 watts on peak and  a low dipole it was almost  like making a dependable "phone call" EVERY day / 365 per year to the same folks at 100 to 200 miles.I REALLY got to know them, which for me was much more fun than just  giving /getting   a 5/9 report.

I never was into digital QSO modes.

I liked to put up beacons at my QTH.

Title: Re: 2M SSB - Is it worth the cost?
Post by: RobRich on June 10, 2021, 1323 UTC
Consider seeing if there is any actual SSB activity in the area IMO. Toss up a basic 2m-band horizontal dipole as high as possible, park a receiver on the band, and monitor for a few days, weeks, etc. Even a cheap RTL SDR should work okay for the task.