The 10-meter band needs no introduction with respect to the role it is playing in the radio communication worldwide. It is a part of the spectrum that is specifically allocated for the Amateur radio operator’s i.e. shortwave radio spectrum. Users can access frequencies ranging from 28.000 to 29.700 MHz in this band.
History of 10 Meter Band
The 10-meter band announced publicly with its frequency allocations by the International Radiotelegraph Conference on October 4, 1927 in Washington, D.C. at that time, the allocated frequency range was from 28000-30000 kc. Later the 1947 International Radio Conference of Atlantic City further cut away the 300 kHz segment comprising of the frequencies from 29.700 MHz to 30.000 MHz from the portion specified for the amateur radio operations. By the end of the 1970s, the FCC prohibited manufacturers from producing and selling the outdated CB radios having 23 channels only. This resulted into a large CB radio stock in the market that was rendered useless. This served as a big start-up opportunity for the amateur radio operators who immediately acquired the cheap selling CB radios that were instantly turned into the efficient 10 meter radios through slight modification. These radios became the part of the popular Amateur radio community of 1970s.
On March 21, 1987, American Novice- and Technician-class license holders were allowed access to the CW and SSB segments on the 10-meter band that increased the scope of opportunities for the operators.
Things got easier by 2007 when the FCC removed Morse code from the list of requirements for clearing the Amateur radio license test. The operators who had failed the test previously gained new hope and they soon earned their licenses by passing the test with flying colors. They used the 10 meter band effectively for various purposes and set examples for the world. Men and women of all ages were equally involved in this hobby.
With regards to the HF range, 10 meter is a widespread band with plenty of frequencies to enjoy. Along with that, this band also has many different transmission modes, each having its own specifications. The entire 10 meter band can be divided into the following areas:
- Bottom part of the band having narrow band modes including the Morse code.
- Upper end of this bottom part of the band having AM, FM and SSB modes. Here the frequencies are from 28.300 MHz up.
- Upper part of the band having Digital modes like PSK-31 of which 28.120 is the most commonly used frequency.
Once you know these portions of the 10 meter band well, you can plan your radio operations accordingly and can set schedules for communicating with the other 10 meter operators most optimally when the solar cycle gives you the best opportunities. Such schedules let the operators be sure of the band conditions beforehand and undergo communication without any hindrance.
For optimizing the operations further, it is recommended to buy the best 10 meter radio and antenna from a well-known brand. Antennas are of greater importance because they perform the more crucial job of transmitting and receiving the signals. If you are more budget-conscious you can also build your own antenna using the DIY antenna kits. Last but not the least, be prepared to give the test and have the license because without that, you cannot access a single frequency on the 10 meter band.
The patterns of propagation for 10 meter band are in accordance with the 11 year solar cycle. The position of the solar cycle is also very important. This cycle leads to the sky wave propagation that is achieved when the ionosphere reflects the signals back into the earth but at wider angles. Such reflections can be intense as well as can be mild enough to be ignored. It is sometimes called as “skip” propagation as well. The good thing about this propagation is that it reflects the signals far away and hence they can be heard even over thousands of miles. Operators can also have “SHORT SKIP” occasionally that propagates signals over 500 miles or less. The normal skip propagation can cover thousands of miles and almost in any part of the world.
At the peak of this cycle, transmissions can be carried out with minimum power because propagation is achieved worldwide smoothly. Even with 5 watts SSB, you can connect with operators across the borders. Sometimes when the 11 year cycle reaches the bottom, the “sky wave” propagation is achieved in a sporadic manner because of the Ionospheric influence. The radio waves propagated over the 10 meter band usually get reflected by the particles in this atmospheric layer and these waves bounce back at greater angles. This kind of propagation makes it a breeze for the users to connect with the operators who are operating the 10 meter radio poles apart. This hobby also allows for DXing through which you can make international contacts right through your Amateur radio.
10 meter band can be very easy and very difficult at the same time. It only needs the understanding of its dynamics for optimally transmitting through this band. Usually when the sun cycle is at its highest and the sunspots formation is also the maximum, you can easily transmit sufficiently long-distance signals over the 10 meter band. It is also possible because of one of the layers of the ionosphere. If we put it simply, it can be said that the best radio transmission can be accomplished during the daytime. At times when the sunspot activity is highly boosted, 10 meter band gets super-efficient throughout the night till the dawn.
Such kind of propagation of signals over longer distances after the refraction from the F2 layer is highly dependent on the sun’s activity no matter in which part of the world you are. This pattern of propagation lets you tune into the channels from different countries at different times of the day.
On the other hand when the sunspot activity is the least and ionospheric layer is also insufficiently ionized, you can still use 10 meter band for transmitting longer radio signals occasionally. Here E propagation increases the reception of signals from stations thousands of miles away. This kind of propagating possibility is only limited to late spring and early summer when you can often find such opportunities. A basic version of this E propagation can also be availed in winter by the end of the year. There can be unexpected band openings throughout the year but they are hard to figure out. Surprisingly when sunspot activity is at its lowest, the trans-equatorial paths provide you with F2 openings quite often.
If you are residing within the tropical latitudes, you are the most fortunate one because you can avail the efficient 10 meter band throughout the sunspot cycle, although propagation might be the most concentrated towards the equator region.
In addition to that, there are following points that you should know if you want serious functionality from your stuff
- There are various quality traps for the people who are keenly searching for good quality 10 meter radios in the markets. Don’t trust a brand blindly because of its high-sounding claims of quality and reliability. Get yourself assured of the true market value of a 10 meter radio brand by consulting the experts of that field, checking out the online reviews and consulting the previous customers who had the experience of using one of the products from that brand. You can start your search for best brand you won’t have to move on to the next alternative as this brand is a true leader in the 10 meter radio market.
- A 10 meter radio is accompanied by many accessories without which you can’t have the system give its best. Make sure your accessories are from the same brand you buy your 10 meter radio from and they are warranted. This would provide consistency in your user experience.
- Be very careful while setting up your equipment. Stick to the setup manual strictly to avoid any kind of glitches in the system later on. Don’t move the components again and again once they have been set. Turn the system on once everything is at its right place.
- When you are adjusting the antenna and bringing everything into synchronization, make sure you are in an open space. This will keep the field around your equipment uniform and the tuning and adjustment would be easy.
- Try to test your setup several times before turning it on for the regular usage. It is preferable that you test it at that spot where you want to run it as a system.