HF Band Choice

I’ve been using a homebrew CW rig with 20m and 40m but I’ve now built a new rig with 40/30/20/17/15m. With limited time for an activation I’m wondering which are the best bands to use. I’m thinking lower bands will work best in the morning and higher bands in the afternoon but is that right? I usually activate during the week - at the weekend I’d probably just choose 30 and 17m to avoid contests. Another factor is that I currently have two antennas that cover 40/30/20m and 17/15m and I’m only going to want to switch between these once during an activation.


Your thoughts are correct in general. 2 good indicators are 1, what’s going on with listed spots and 2. how good / busy the bands are at the time you’re on the summit.

All Best, Ken

In my limited experience 40m is good for “local” operators, in the sense people in the same country as you. As you go up the bands you tend to go over the heads of those closer to you, but 30m is a good compromise. So to give as many chasers as possible a chance of a QSO it helps to include 40m or 30m and then go onto higher bands. 17m and 15m will get you far afield but there are some very fast CW operators on them I’ve found. :slight_smile:


I built my own 49 t 1 for an endfed half wave, 40 to 10m.
Use it as inverted L mostly and I have been playing RaDAR type stuff a bit on bush walking doing CW and FT8 JS8 for fun and exercise. Where my antenna is a bit different from the norm is I put 1 link in the wire at about 9.7 mhz which give me a perfect vswr on 18 mhz. It has a 1.8 t 1 vswr in 30m band but I prefer the better vswr on 18mhz for my FT817. Problem with getting a good vswr on 10mhz makes my next sweet spot top of 19 mhz and ft 817 shuts down a bit on 18 mhz where I want to use it. I also found in the normal cofig with the link closed it is very broad from 24 mhz right up to a 2 t1 vswr on 28 mhz so I left it alone at that. Sorry for all the facts and figures here but it ended up being able to Operate and make contacts on all bands from 40m up to 10m with only one alligator clip link in the “10mhz” mark. My SOTA season for 2022 is about to crank up so looking forward to giving it a try soon on SOTA. Over summer I have chased several other SOTA or PARKs ops with it and made heaps of higher band qrp FT8 JS8 contacts on it in my yard at home. My rigs I use are FT817 or KX3 and they are both happy to give full power into it.
Good luck regards
Ian vk5cz …

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Hi Richard,

here a summary of my experience with SOTA QRP <5W.

40m - very early greylineDX to VK/ZL,
after breakfast up to first hop,
in the late afternoon it opens for DX (NA),
many local stations,
in central Europe usually big pile up if you activate in the morning,
often working a pile up of 1h,
when 40m is not working locally many SOTA stations will try 60m,
in the afternoon around 15:00 UTC kind of a gap

30m - mix of 40m and 20m propagation,
you can work DX almost any time of the day,
nice DX in the late evening,
usually you get many stations that avoid the contest bands,
less stations than on 40m, but it is still possible to build a pile up,
gap around 15:00

20m - very early in the morning DX to Japan, VK, ZL and similar,
after late breakfast :slight_smile: reduced activity,
activity increases after 11:00 UTC,
peaks around 13:00/14:00 UTC with DX to NA, than reduced activity,
late afternoon DX,
SOTA pileups sometimes in the morning (usually first hop) and early afternoon,
after 15:00 UTC there seems to be tea time :slight_smile: with less activity

17m/15m - sometimes very early in the morning DX to Japan,
later around 7:00 UTC DX to VL/ZL,
than not much activity until afternoon around 13:00/14:00/15:00 UTC, some DX at this time,
but not many stations,
didn’t have a pile up yet on 17m/15m,
sometimes 17m/15m open until late evening with many DX

An aspect that makes me prefer early activations: the noise level in the morning is lower than in the (late) afternoon.

My sequence of bands - from most to less CW activity:


These are my thoughts. Similar experience? Or did you experience something else?



Ignoring 60m is a bad choice, I nearly always start with it and usually get my 4 required QSOs in 20 minutes or less. I finish up the callers and then usually move to either 40m or 30m, especially if I’ve been in the non-WARC part of 60m so that I can let non-Brits have a chance.


Are you using CW or SSB on 60m? I’m CW only on HF.

I usually start on 40m and have the 4 QSOs within 10 minutes of calling CQ.

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Pre-Covid I used both. Since being able to get out and about again I’ve been SSB only, I need to do some remedial practice on my CW.

As well as my 817 I’ve got an ATS3B and an MTR that both do 60m.

60m does seem to be more SSB than CW but there is enough especially if you call in the WARC section of the band around 5.3545

As a mainly HF-CW operator that’s been my experience using CW on 5.3545 - a pity as 60m is my 2nd, favourite band (NVIS and all that) for local, regional and EU contacts.

With limited time at the summit I always include 30m with its plentiful EU stations and its almost-always good propagation. By comparison 60m CW is much harder work (i.e. QSOs per minute). Even with 10W SSB on 60m (max output for KX2) I’ve been impressed by the number of contacts I’ve had at the top end of the UK allocation using a good antenna (60m inverted v).

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