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Which Band Use For Mobile Radio?
2020-04-02

Bands

transceiver adjusted

Ham radio bands are labeled by the average signal wavelength of the frequencies within that band.

2 Meter

For example, the 2-meter band refers to the 144-MHz VHF (very high frequency) band that generally ranges from 144 to 148 MHz. Those wavelengths average 2 meters in length.

The 2-meter band is also the most-commonly-used ham radio band. It can get crowded in some areas, but it’s also very long-ranged, and you have the highest possibility of reaching someone in an emergency.

70 Centimeter

Seventy centimeters is the next most common band and is also called the 440-MHz band. It goes from 420 to 450 MHz in the US, though other countries allocate fewer frequencies.

If someone says “UHF” (ultra-high frequency) in relation to ham radios without any other qualifiers, it refers to the 70-centimeter band.

You’ll have more room to speak on the UHF band but transmissions on this band don’t propagate as far as VHF transmissions.

6 Meter

The 6-meter band is at the low end of VHF at around 50 MHz. It’s not as commonly used as the other VHF band, which is a shame since it vastly increases the distance you can transmit a radio signal.

Six-meter VHF is also called “the magic band” because it has extremely good propagation characteristics. During periods of solar activity, the Earth’s ionosphere can allow communication at ranges up to 1,600 miles without a repeater!

You won’t get that with a mobile radio, but you’ll still outrange 2-meter radio operators. Also, nearby electrical devices can interfere with these radio transmissions.

You do need a much longer antenna to transmit on this band.

10 Meter

The 10-meter band, around 28 MHz, falls under HF (high frequency). It can propagate extremely far but is greatly dependent on the Earth’s atmosphere; 28 MHz radio waves can refract from the F2 layer of the ionosphere during periods of solar activity.

This gives this band an incredibly long range, but only when the sun is overhead. If the sun is actively spewing sunspots and is above you, you’ll be able to contact other continents.

That said, you’ll need a 10-meter antenna to transmit on this band.


The Antenna

mobile ham radio antenna

The crux of any mobile ham radio is not the transceiver itself but the antenna.

You have to have an antenna that is rated for the bands you want to use, is long enough to transmit well, and has a compatible voltage.

The antenna may also need its own power supply.

Most mobile ham radio transceivers will recommend an antenna. Users also often report which antennas they use in their reviews.

Finally, you need to mount that antenna on top of your vehicle. Keeping it inside won’t work because your car’s metallic body will block the radio waves.

Antenna Mounts

man installing antenna

Magnetic mounts are the most commonly used antenna vehicular mounts. They’re easy to use and are effective for smaller antennas.

However, larger antennas, such as quad-band antennas, can catch too much of the wind for a magnetic mount.

Luckily there are also clip in mounting brackets that can hold heavier antennas without trouble.

You’ll be able to get by with a magnetic mount most of the time, though. Plus, with a mag mount, you can easily take down the antenna when you don’t want to use it, such as when you are using your truck for commuting to work.

You don’t want that big ol’ antenna to call a thief’s attention to your expensive ham radio, after all!

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