Like many I mourn the demise of VHF SSB from its heyday and widespread use in the 1970s and 1980s to a minority sport or special events nowadays. Those days will never come again (since most countries have done away with VHF-only licenses) but I’m wondering (Canute like) if it’s possible to slow the decline or even increase its popularity - at least regionally - by a small number of enthusiasts having frequent enough activations that encourages chasers and other activators to join it.
To Tom @M1EYP and others, I’m not talking about VHF special events and contests here (which are great and may encourage a few newbies thinly spread across an association to take it up) but how to increase VHF SSB for yer day-in-day-out ad-hoc SOTA activations.
The spectrum of SOTA activators ranges from modes-bands specialists who ‘camp out’ for ages on a hilltop to get the best conditions through to the keen hillwalkers/summit baggers who don’t want to spend much time playing radio at each summit. I’m wanting to target the middle ground.
I don’t bother taking my (relatively heavy and bulky) FT817 on day-to-day VHF activations when it’s more convenient to take one of my VHF/UHF HTs. But I would do if I thought there was a reasonable prospect of others using SSB – and that means seeing many more VHF SSB alerts.
Here’s where it gets controversial. First, let me remind you “Perfect is the enemy of good”. The SSB purists reading this will say: you have to erect a horizontal Yagi on a big pole to get decent Dx. No doubt that’s largely true but if you insist on that, it will remain a minority / special event sport.
I think we need to make it as convenient to use SSB as FM or DV to attract casual users. So then activators may start on FM and switch to SSB. That means vertical polarization and whips and J-poles (I can hear the purists choking). Yes, of course this won’t be as good as H-polarized Yagis. But maybe, their use will come in time if SSB was more popular. And remember, many shack-based chasers only have verticals (usually colinears) at home.
I’ve read that, all other things being the same, SSB has up to a 10dB advantage over FM (that’s 1-2 S points) meaning a weak SSB signal can still be heard when its FM equivalent has disappeared. So worth trying SSB if it’s merely changing the mode setting.
Anyway, I seek your comments. Would I be wasting my time? Are there any like-minded people in G/LD or neighbouring regions willing to try to get this going in NW England?