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U.S. SSB Calling Freq

I am planning a trip Monday to attempt to activate a summit that has no recorded activiations yet.

I am new to HF and have been so focused on learning cw that I have yet to use SSB, however I am not ready for cw. I see a lot of different answers to what freq to use for ssb (different countries, etc.). What calling freq should I use in the usa for 20m and 40m ssb?


There are no exact calling frequencies for SOTA. Most SSB activators will be at the higher end of the band such as 14.345 or 14.347 MHz depending on what frequencies are clear in order to stay away from high power stations. On 40 meters, some ops prefer to at 7.285 MHz or higher but there are a lot of nets on 40 meters. I like to find a clear frequency around 7.190 MHz. FYI if you can operate 17 meters, SSB activators will use any clear frequency they can find but there is the HF Pack QRP calling frequency at 18.157.5 MHz where you might find some contacts.

Los Angeles

Casey, I agree with Scott’s numbers above. It is always best to put out an Alert for your proposed activation so the chasers will know where and when to look for you.
Have Fun, Gary

That is good advice. However, I see a LOT of self-spots where the OM just puts “7, 14, 21 MHz. SSB” or “20m SSB” for example. So, what frequency is that specifically?

I see that a lot on alerts, but not on spots.

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Hi Casey,
If you hope to get some DX into Europe on 40m - make sure you don’t go above 7.2 MHz as 7.2-7.3 is not part of the 40m amateur band in IARU region 1.

20m is OK - we have the full 14-14.350MHz available and are allowed to use it.

A lot of times an activator will go to the QRP “centre of activity” frequency while when operating portable we often run low power. So these would be 7.090 or 7.118 or sometimes 7.188 on 40m and 14.285 on 20m - note from what is said above, these are different frequencies in the US, but they are in band for both IARU region 1 & 2.

As Steve says you dont need to put your exact frequency on an alert in Sotawatch ( https://sotawatch.sota.org.uk/ ) - if you self spot once you are on the summit that’s when you indicate what free frequency you have found and intend to call CQ on. It’s normal to self-spot by the way.
73 Ed DD5LP.

Thanks for the info everyone. I posted my activation to sotawatch and will try to self spot when I summit. I will use 7.190, 14.285 and 146.520.

Be careful with 7.190 there is a group of CA ragchewers on 7.189.5 that get nasty if you get too close.

Good luck on your summit activation! Don’t worry too much about which HF SSB frequency to use as you will just have to find a clear frequency and post your spot. My favorite SSB freq. is 14.347, but I have found that there are often nets around 14.345, so it was not available. Note: Avoid 7.200 as there are a bunch of jerks that hang out on that freq.

As long as you can get a spot out, you will be good!

Dave, AE9Q

Here in the Northwest (particularly W7O) we are trying to start off 2m FM on 146.58 so we can reach regular SOTA Chasers and Activators for S2S and then move to 146.52 to ‘clean up’ with any other contacts. This is especially useful when 146.52 is busy with ragchewers (not the intended use of the “calling” frequency, but…). And note that we have a 2m FM Distance event on Sep 14, starting at 11am on…146.58. Post an alert for your favorite summit and get a good antenna to use with you HT.

As others noted above you will likely have most success relying on a spot rather than an alert. Get set up for texting a spot through sms. Many times I don’t have enough data for internet but can get a text out. Of course cw is king for rbn access without having to use data at all because many summits at least in the 5 area do not have cell service.

With an alert the frequency can be busy and my guess is not chasers do not monitor a specific ssb frequency except maybe the qrp calling frequencies. I made the mistake of calling cq around 7.195 after asking if the frequency was in use and listening for a good minute. A couple minutes later someone came in saying he’d been in there all morning … obviously not.

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If you put up an alert, which I recommend, give specific frequencies. I monitor four of them simultaneously, a habit I developed eight years ago when weekday activations were relatively rare and European climbers were very audible, even from Western US. On 20 SSB, start on the golden goody, 14.347, because we know you can only go lower in the event of a conflict. Stay well clear of 14.336, because county hunters pop up at any time and can’t go elsewhere… unless you intend to be a county activator and know the name of your county. On 40 SSB, the west coast can’t hear you above 7.200 in the morning due to massive QRM from broadcasters. General class chasers are not allowed below 7.175. Avoid the rude guys on 7.189

Do whatever it takes to get on CW, even if you need 5 wpm and a cheat sheet. It gains you the equivalent of a 15 element yagi in strength. On 20, try not to go higher than 14.063… data modes are creeping down to a point just a little higher than that. On 40, it has come down to 7.032/33 or 7.061

Elliott, K6EL

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That is very good guidance on ssb frequencies. Thanks. I have noticed digital modes encroaching into the 14.060s. I have tried to hold the line. But perhaps it is futile with qrp power and the digital operators probably do not listen first anyway.