Amateur Ham Radio VHF, UHF, HF Bands – Frequency , Propagation, Q Signals, ARES

Amateur Radio 2 Meter 144 – 148 Mhz Band Plan

Band Plans in the Ham radio spectrum are not for the most part officially regulated by the FCC.
These band plans developed through the common courtesy and agreed upon “good practice” throughout the Ham community. They are arranged so that all transmission modes, technologies and requirements (repeaters, simplex, beacons, SSB, CW, etc) have their own slice of the action. Although it is true that no person or entity has a right to a specific frequency these are agreed upon spaces within the entirety of a particular band that have been proved throughout the course of Ham history to work for the common good.

( ** Shortwave Frequency List: International Shortwave Radio Frequencies to Monitor )

FT-2980R FT-2980 Original Yaesu 144 MHz Single Band Mobile Transceiver 80 Watts
FT-2980R FT-2980 Original Yaesu 144 MHz Single Band Mobile Transceiver 80 Watts – 3 Year Manufacturer Warranty

Amateur (HAM) Radio – Metrolina 2 Meter Emergency Net, W4BFB, Charlotte, NC with Yaesu FT-2900R

The most widely used band in the VHF range is 2 Meters or otherwise known as 144 to 148 Megahertz.

144 – 144.10 CW (Continuous Wave) Morse Code signals
144.10 – 144.275 Single Side Band (SSB) operation
144.275 – 144.300 Propagation Beacons
144.30 – 144.50 OSCAR sideband (Amateur satellites that use digital transmissions such as ASCII for transmitting spacecraft telemetry on beacon transmitters.)
144.50 – 144.60 Linear Translator Inputs (Secondary Repeater)
144.60 – 144.90 FM Repeater Inputs
144.90 – 145.10 FM Simplex (Weak signal and antenna to antenna transmissions)
145.10 – 145.20 Linear Translator Outputs
145.20 – 145.50 FM Repeater Outputs
145.50 – 145.80 Experimental Modes
145.80 – 146.00 OSCAR Suband
146.01 – 146.37 Repeater Inputs
146.40 – 146.58 Simplex
146.52 National Simplex Calling Frequency (This is a national VHF Simplex frequency useful for daily monitoring as well as the primary frequency for non repeater emergency communications.)
146.61 – 147.39 Repeater Outputs
147.42 – 147.57 Simplex
147.60 – 147.99 Repeater Inputs

Bonus Ham Radio 2 Meter Simplex Guide

These 12 frequencies may not be used regularly in every location however they are available and very underused. Input these into your radio and you can use them as a starting point for scanning the simplex range. It is recommended to have these waiting and available in your memory bank for emergency communications if your local repeaters are down.

146.52 (National Calling Frequency)

HF Frequency Bands from 1.8 to 29.7 Mhz and Ham Radio Q Signals

The following is a list of the HF Frequency bands from 1.8 to 29.7 Megahertz and also a handy list of common Ham Radio Q Signals.

Yaesu Original FT-991A HF/50/140/430 MHz All Mode
Yaesu Original FT-991A HF/50/140/430 MHz All Mode”Field Gear” Transceiver – 100 Watts (50 Watts on 140/430MHz) – 3 Year Warranty

This arrangement is not law or regulation it is simply a consolidation of good practice techniques by the amateur radio community.

160 Meters 1.800 – 2.000 MHz

1.800 – 2.000 CW
1.800 – 1.810 Digital Modes
1.810 QRP CW calling frequency
1.843 – 2.000 SSB, SSTV and other wideband modes
1.910 SSB QRP calling frequency
1.995 – 2.000 Experimental
1.999 – 2.000 Beacons

80 Meters 3.500 – 3.985 Mhz

3.500 – 3.510 CW DX Window
3.560 QRP CW calling frequency
3.570 – 3.600 RTTY / Data
3.585 – 3.600 Automatically controlled data stations
3.590 RTTY / Data DX
3.790 – 3.800 DX window
3.845 SSTV
3.885 AM calling frequency
3.985 QRP SSB calling frequency

40 Meters 7.030 – 7.290 MHz

7.030 QRP CW calling frequency
7.040 RTTY / Data DX
7.070 – 7.125 RTTY / Data
7.100 – 7.105 Automatically controlled data stations
7.171 SSTV
7.173 D-SSTV
7.285 QRP SSB calling frequency
7.290 AM calling frequency

30 Meters 10.130 – 10.150 MHz

10.130 – 10.140 RTTY / Data
10.140 – 10.150 Automatically controlled data stations

20 Meters 14.060 – 14.286 MHz

14.060 QRP CW calling frequency
14.070 – 14.095 RTTY / Data
14.095 – 14.0995 Automatically controlled data stations,
14.100 IPB / NCDXF beacons
14.1005 – 14.112 Automatically controlled data stations
14.230 SSTV
14.233 D-SSTV
14.236 Digital Voice
14.285 QRP SSB calling frequency
14.286 AM calling frequency

17 Meters 18.100 – 18.162.5 MHz

18.100 – 18.105 RTTY / Data
18.105 – 18.110 Automatically controlled data stations
18.110 IBP / NCDXF beacons
18.162.5 Digital Voice

15 Meters 21.060 – 21.385 MHz

21.060 QRP CW calling frequency
21.070 – 21.100 RTTY / Data
21.090 – 21.100 Automatically controlled data stations
21.150 IBP / NCDXF beacons
21.340 SSTV
21.385 QRP SSB calling frequency

12 Meters 24.920 – 24.925 MHz

24.920 – 24.925 RTTY / Data
24.925 – 24.930 Automatically controlled data stations
24.930 IBP / NCDXF beacons

10 Meters 28.060 – 29.680 MHz

28.060 QRP CW calling frequency
28.070 – 28.120 RTTY / Data
28.120 – 28.189 Automatically controlled data stations
28.190 – 28.225 Beacons
28.200 IBP / NCDXF beacons
28.385 QRP SSB calling frequency
28.680 SSTV
29.000 – 29.200 AM
29.300 – 29.510 Satellite downlinks
29.520 – 29.580 Repeater inputs
29.600 FM simplex
29.620 – 29.680 Repeater outputs

Ham Radio Q Signals

Q signals are a common framework of Ham radio communication abbreviations that quickly provide terminology for useful procedural airwaves activity.

QRG This is used to ask another operator “What is the exact frequency you are using?

QRL Asked to find out if a frequency is busy. You can remember this one because “R” is for Receive and “L” is for Listen. Just think, “Is it OK to receive and I’m listening for traffic.”

QRM This is generally used when either you or your contact are experiencing interference. I remember this signal by thinking “Real Mess”. After stating QRM you also provide a 1 through 5 number indicating the severity of the interference – 1 is less and 5 is extreme. “It’s QRM at 3”.

QRN Used to communicate a problem with static. I remember the RN as “Really bad Noise”. Once again it is a 1-5 scale.

QRO Release more output. Increase the power of the transmission.

QRP Reduce power. Dial it down.

QRQ This signal is for speeding up data and CW (Morse Code) transmissions. Speed it up. Q is for quick.

QRS Same as above but the S is for “Slow”. Reduce speed of transmission.

QRT Stop. Don’t send. Stop sending.

QRU The U is for “You”. I have nothing to communicate to you or for you at this time.

QRV I remember the V in this as “Vacation”. Like…are you Ready? Although it has nothing to do with vacation just think of something you would like to do and ask, “QRV? Are you Ready?”

QRX This is a scheduling code. When are you or I available at the next time and frequency for another communication?

QRZ Indication of someone calling me or I them. “Callsign” QRZ available at such and such a frequency.”

QSB “Signal fading”. Remember this one with Signal Barely audible.

QSK When two contacts are transmitting and someone else wants to break in this is used to communicate, “Yes I hear you. Break in.”

QSL This one acknowledges receipt of the transmission and information or whatever is sent. It communicates that I have received what you have sent and asks if you have received what I have sent.

QSO Open or direct communication is indicated or asked. “Can you reach directly or via relay with so and so (callsign)?”

QSP This is Relay only.

QST The main Q Signal used for a transmission to all amateur radio operators. Usually used before transmission on a Net. Used to convey group information.

QSX Easily remembered by the word “SeX”. It doesn’t mean that but you have to remember these however you can. It means, “I am listening to so and so (callsign) on such and such a frequency”.

QSY Switch frequencies or “Let’s meet on a different frequency at (specify)”.

QTC Defines a specific or number of messages that I have for you or you have for me that are waiting and ready to deliver.

QTH Location. “I am located (here, there, at this frequency) and where are you?”

QTR Time. “The current time is?” “What is the correct time?”

K Index, A Index, (SFI) Solar Flux Index, HF Band Conditions, Propagation

Three major indexes are used by HF Ham operators to interpret probable HF band propagation at any given time – K index, A index and SFI.

Super Antenna MP1LXMAX Deluxe Tripod 80m-10m HF +2m VHF Portable Antenna with Go Bags ham Radio Amateur
Super Antenna MP1LXMAX Deluxe Tripod 80m-10m HF +2m VHF Portable Antenna with Go Bags ham Radio Amateur

The Sun is constantly shooting electro-magnetic particles into the Earth’s ionosphere. These particles along with seasonal weather, solar flares and Sunspot activity, combine to create ever-changing, low to severe geomagnetic and ionospheric fluctuations that hourly and daily affect the DX capability of HF band conditions.

** The ARRL Antenna Book: The Ultimate Reference for Amateur Radio Antennas, Transmission Lines And Propagation (Arrl Antenna Book)

K INDEX – Planetary Average

Observatories around the globe, at specified three-hour intervals throughout the day, measure current disturbances and activity in the Earth’s magnetic field. The K index is a 3-hour average of All of the locally observed K measurements from around the globe.

K index values are between 0 – 9. 0 to 1 is excellent. 2 – 9 moves up the scale from fair to total blackout.

A INDEX – Planetary Value

Because of the mathematical method by which the K index is measured it cannot be used as a long-term geomagnetic indicator. The A index provides the answer.

As stated above, because the K index is measured globally at the same three hour (UTC) segments we end up with 8 daily K indexes (24 hours divided by 3 hours = 8). The average of these 8 K indexes provides the daily planetary value – the A index.

The range is between 0 – 400. 0 – 15 is considered the most favorable propagation window. 16 – 400 things become considerably worse and unpredictable.


Describes the general level of solar activity and radiation being received from the Sun. The measure is produced every day at Penticton Radio Observatory in British Columbia, Canada. The way this works is that the concentration of charged particles in the highest level of the ionosphere – the F2 Region – sends out radio noise and fluctuation. The Penticton Observatory constantly measures the F2 emissions at a standardized frequency of 2800 MHz (10.7 cm).

The measurement of the reception of the signal provides a generally recognized “baseline” for determining the positive or negative value of Maximum Usable Frequency (MUF).

The SFI range 65 – 300. The higher to 300 the better. The lower the range indicates the reduction of ionization in the upper atmosphere to support long-distance communications (Maximum Usable Frequency) with higher frequencies.

The Propagation Combination
To summarize: The K index is “3 – Hour Average” of all the global measurements – changing every three hours. 1-3 Good

The A index is the daily average of the 8 K indexes within the last 24 hours. 0-15 Good

The SFI is the frequency emissions from the F2 layer that are compiled to determine the Maximum Usable Frequency for a given period of time. 65 Bad, 100 Good, 200 – 300 Excellent


The ARRL Ham Radio License Manual
The ARRL Ham Radio License Manual

Two national amateur radio emergency services exist – ARES and RACES.

RACES – Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service

is coordinated and run by the US Federal Government activated among preexisting membership of amateur radio volunteers as part of disaster relief agencies implementation of disaster recovery.

** The Lo-Fi Voices That Speak for America…Even in decline, AM radio matters…
“Without the line-of-sight restrictions of FM radio, AM radio can also cover vast geographic areas, and so remains a staple of rural media. Even now, if you tune into the right frequency on a clear summer night, you can hear a broadcast from half a continent away—listening in on the kinds of conversations that shape identity and politics far outside the Beltway.”

ARES – Amateur Radio Emergency Service

is established through ARRL (Amateur Radio Relay League) which is the leading national non-governmental organization for all-things amateur (HAM) radio.

Both organizations consist of non-paid citizen volunteers who are licensed , experienced and trained in the fundamentals of disaster relief communications on the amateur bands. The primary purpose is to provide secondary and backup communication to local first responders and disaster victims in the wake of downed primary infrastructure radio services (public service, cellular, electrical blackouts, etc..)

ARES and RACES differ in one fundamental area: Structure vs. Flexibility

RACES is a very structured and procedural communications framework only implemented after or during the disaster response and recovery has been initiated. RACES control operators may only talk with other RACES stations.

ARES is a much more flexible framework in that amateur radio operators are able to communicate in a time friendly and fluid transmission environment before, during and after disaster response and recovery has been initiated.

Both are essentially two sides of the same coin. RACES is turned “on and off” by a directive from a federal disaster relief agency. ARES is an “always on” emergency service.

** Please check the links at the bottom of this article for more detailed information on membership and participation in both of these organizations.

The following lists of disaster response first aid and radio communication field supplies are very useful for any concerned and prepared amateur radio operator during a time of crisis.


2 Meter or Dual Band handheld transceiver plus a vehicle battery supported mobile unit.

Scanner: Police, Fire, EMS, Agency, NOAA Weather, Air Traffic operations. (Each State and locality has different laws regarding scanner usage and possession. It is generally understood that holders of a valid FCC Amateur Radio license are legally entitled to use public service scanning capabilities. However, check you local ordinances for specific details.)

One day’s worth (or more) of fully charged high capacity batteries for the radio with battery charger (automobile).

Extended portable mobile antenna. Examples: A roll up J-pole or 2M / 440 Slim Jim, 2M / 70cm mag mount antenna, Yagi or similar directional antenna.

Extra coaxial cable, ear phones, microphone, cell phone and charger, paper, pens.

Personal Identification: Drivers license, ID card, FCC license, FEMA ICS and NIMS certifications, family and friends contact information. Put all of these important documents into a water / weather proof plastic bag or resilient and easily accessible disaster storage container.

Clothing: seasonal, weather and temperature specific. Food and Water. Energy, nutrition, electrolyte vitamin packets, survival rations, personal medication and prescriptions.

CASH: Assume all ATM and electronic funds and banking capabilities are down. Divide the cash into several securely stored areas within vehicle, equipment and your person to mitigate potential loss from weather, looting, theft and unforeseen conditions.

ARRL message passing and traffic handling forms. Specifically ICS-213 forms. Log Book. Up to date road book and local / regional Map.

GPS hand held device for directional and location information. Get one that includes a satellite emergency location beacon.

Other Items: folding chair, tent, sleeping bag, rain gear, duct tape, rope, hammer, screwdriver, wrench, emergency road flares, extension cord, plastic tarp, fire starter / lighter, extra fuel, Bible, extra parts and repair items for your radio equipment and vehicle, etc…the list goes on. Be Safe and Be Prepared.

First-Aid Supplies: surgical gloves, antibacterial ointment, soap, alcohol wipes, face mask breathing filter, space blanket, medical tape, bandages and cotton sterile dressings of all sizes, body fluid – blood decontamination and wound compression, scissors, tweezers, petroleum jelly, cold compress, burn and insect bite cream, eye wash, antacid, anti-diarrhea, digital thermometer, aspirin, ibuprofen, Tylenol, sunscreen, regional snake bite kit, potassium iodide for thyroid protection from nuclear fallout, a small suture – stitch kit, etc.

These, of course, are a partial list of items and preparation. The best preparation is training and thinking through, prior to a disaster, the implications of a total collapse of a local, regional and national power, economic, public service and communication infrastructure.

Stay Awake. Situational awareness is key. We believe we live in a comfortable and safe environment. Recognize that everything we enjoy about modern society can be thrust back to the dark ages within three minutes.

ARRL – National Association for Amateur Radio

FCC-Amateur Radio Service




How to communicate when the world goes silent