In a recent thread I mentioned using the frequency 144.300MHz on SSB as a calling frequency then to QSY to another frequency after establishing contact. My explanation was because this is what a French operator had suggested after he had replied to my CQ call earlier in the week.
There was then a lengthy discussion over whether 144.300 is a calling frequency.
I said I would contact the RSGB VHF Band Manager and ask for their comment. John G4SWX has replied and with his permission here is what he has said:
“A number of years ago the concept of calling channels, sometimes called calling frequencies were removed from the IARU Region 1 (includes all of Europe) and the RSGB band plans. The reason being that SSB is not really a channelised mode. Therefore, as a centre of activity you should call CQ close to 144.300MHz and it is plain courtesy to QSY if others want to use that frequency.”
John went on to explain he tends to call CQ on 144.295 or 144.305 if they are free, or further down the band if necessary to find a clear frequency. Calling CQ on 144.300 and then staying on it risks getting a reaction from those in the UK unaware of the change in policy.
And as was raised in the original Thread the rules and customs in other countries can be different.
My plan now, if and when the delayed activation is made, will be to post a spot on say 144.295 and at the end call CQ on 144.300 for any non-SOTA operators who may be listening. For a brief SOTA QSO I’m not sure it would be necessary to QSY but if it was suggested by the other operator or things were busy I would.
Indeed, policy or no policy! However, I am not in agreement with calling 5kHz off the centre frequency when band occupancy is low. SSB is intrinsically a mode that supports communication at low signal strengths and being 5kHz off where operators will be monitoring may result in being missed. There is also the fact that rigs may be a kilohertz or two out, so that might move the caller further away from 300.
I’m not sure being 5kHz off 300 and having a string of QSOs on that frequency will make you very popular if there is anyone around. It also makes QRM from a strong station calling CQ on 300 a real possibility. I would recommend that you alert for a frequency further away and call there. Then if there are no replies, call on 300. I worked 9 on 144.333MHz from Rhinog Fach this week and didn’t even call CQ. Mike G4BLH/P was sitting waiting for me and all I did was ask whether the frequency was in use. This has often been my experience with SOTA activating.
“The reason being that SSB is not really a channelised mode”
What utter nonsequitous drivel. Why on earth do you need a mode to be channelised in order to have a designated frequency on which to make initial contact with other stations? It’s just common sense to which, fortunately, the vast majority of amateurs appear still to adhere.
This must be most annoying and confusing for newly licensed people like you John. Here you are trying to do the right thing and there is conflicting advice. If I was calling on 2m SSB I’d call on 300 and QSY at least 25kHz away and wouldn’t sit 5hKz away from 300 and operate. The thought of someone running high power with big antennas just 5kHz from 300 seems counter productive to those looking for weak callers.
The interesting operating habit I stole off Gerald was to work the same frequency always when possible. Gerald uses 144.333 nearly always and people know that they should listen / call around there when he’s out. For the last few years I have done similar by operating on 14.06233, 14.06288 & 10.11833. 10.11888 etc. and also I tend to start low and work up the bands. Some chasers have learned that I do that and on many occasions now I have started operating on 30m and chasers are waiting on 14.06233 or 88 for me to QSY.
I would stress that you try to build a consistent operating habit as you activate as anything you do to make chasing easier makes you more popular. It’s much easier on CW to do this than SSB where that can be issues finding clear frequencies that fit your plan. But trying to follow a pattern to operating is worthwhile.
I totally agree. I strongly suspect that the VHF manager and those in the IARU responsible for this rubbish do not participate in weak signal SSB working. As I have mentioned before, when anticipating the sudden and usually quite short sporadic E openings, or SOTA activations, I spend long periods of time monitoring the calling channel. I honestly cannot see how I can also monitor +/- 5 kHz without resorting to manual operation.
Sorry, Andy, but that fails. The whole point of monitoring the calling channel is that it frees me to do other things while keeping an ear open for sounds of activity, and that ear is discriminatory, in that I can disregard Fred calling Joe, something that cannot be done by keeping an eye on the waterfall. This is the nub of the matter, if you are keeping an eye on the waterfall you are not keeping an eye on the other things that you might be doing. The point is moot anyway, my rig doesn’t have a waterfall and the band scan is both rudimentary and insensitive! I don’t see me laying down my cash for a new rig just to accommodate myself to an ill thought out and retrograde policy!
Back in the day, the “calling frequency” was 145.450 IIRC.
Most of us used home brew transverters with local oscillator derived from an 8MHz crystal, with no attempt at temperature control. The prime mover may well have had a valve VFO with dubious temperature stability, and a mechanical tuning scale with limited resolution.
Now that most radios have far better accuracy and stability, and can be tuned to within a few tens of Hz with high confidence (often much closer than that, of course) , we call it a “centre of activity”
The other aspect, which is equally important, is accuracy in respect of timing. If you alert for a specific time, make every effort to be on the alerted frequency at that time. Being early and working through the alert time is fine. In my experience, the more reliable you can be with your planning, the better. Then on those occasions when things do go awry, you will generally find that chasers will have the patience to wait on frequency for you or at least keep checking the frequency while chasing other activators.
No, Andy, I think you have missed my point. A panadapter is a visual device. To use it you have to watch it. If you have to watch the panadapter you can’t be watching your computer screen, read your book or use your soldering iron. If you are listening then you have more freedom to diversify into other activities.
A partial answer with my rig is the dual watch facility, also there is the scan facility, but I find that less than useful because on SSB it doesn’t pause, it just slows down, so you have to drop what you are doing, return to the rig and then search for the signal, if it is still there.
Its a long time ago, now, but I think that for a while towards the end of the geographical band plan there was an SSB calling frequency of 145.541, as a palindrome it was easy to remember! There wasn’t a lot of SSB activity at that time, I well remember the surprise when Tom G3BA (SK) first appeared with VFO controlled SSB when the rest of us dinosaurs were still on rock-bound AM!
I think I’m pretty sure that it was 145.41. I couldn’t afford SSB in the early 70s, so I used to operate my Pye Vanguard with a VXO and net on SSB callers. I often received the comment that my carrier supression wasn’t very good! After experiencing “the real thing” in the form of a Belcom Liner 2 owned by Richard G4CZP, I managed to persuade the XYL that I needed to update and got consent to buy a Trio TR-7010 on the never-never in 1976. I still use the rig today. Bizarrely for a mobile transceiver, it has been used to work over 250 locator squares… meteor scatter is a marvellous mode.
In my humble opinion the “orfishul” response is at best eronious.
Firstly remember that band plans are not binding (in the UK).
Secondly a calling frequency/ctr of activity is basically the qrg where people listen for callers. But if the band is wide open then people will be scanning the band for random calls, ctr of activity not needed.
In the 80’s, long before Sota, I sat on Cross Fell for 5 hours and worked 100 2m SSB stations. I started the qso’s on 144.300 and qsy’d to 144.350.
Things are very different now. 2m SSB is at best unpopular.
If you are a random caller, then call on on the ctr of activity and qsy 30+ kHz. Fortunately with the interweb we can now eliminate the randomness by putting up a spot, job done!
After reading all posts I came to something say, operating practice for me.
In Croatia 144,300 is center of activity. So, if I am first on the frequeny 144,300 is mine. I would not qsy somewhere else. It is my frequency as long as I made qso s. If band is full, everybody, including me, will scan up and down.
That is not good practice. Hogging the coa for periods of time makes it difficult for others to be heard or found.
Of course it matters not if the number of qso’s per hour is small.
In the UK we have a CW coa on 60m on 5.260MHz. On Sunday morning at 1000 a pre arranged sked occupies the qrg making it more dificult to make a random qso without the hope that others either tune either side of the coa. Selfish operating I suggest.