Radio Preppers

General Category => General Discussion => Topic started by: gil on October 31, 2017, 06:42:16 PM

Title: Have you tried the 160m band?
Post by: gil on October 31, 2017, 06:42:16 PM
Hello. I never have... Wondering about its utility in a prepping context...

Have you tried the 160m band? What is your experience? What do you think about it?

Gil.
Title: Re: Have you tried the 160m band?
Post by: cockpitbob on November 01, 2017, 10:03:40 AM
...and if you have tried 160m, what are you using for an antenna?

I have a 180' random length end fed on an MFJ-941 Versa Tuner (manual 200W tuner).  It will tune 160m, but I haven't listened to that band in years.  The best I recall was lots of QRN and not much activity.  I'll give 160 a listen this weekend.
Title: Re: Have you tried the 160m band?
Post by: caulktel on November 01, 2017, 11:33:42 AM
I can hear some stations on 160 listening on my 40 meter dipole with a tuner on it, but otherwise I don't have enough real estate for it. I saw a nice video yesterday, https://youtu.be/Al3ZJipFq6k using a Mag Loop for 160/80, it looks interesting.

Joel
N6ALT
Title: Re: Have you tried the 160m band?
Post by: NavySEAL on November 03, 2017, 02:33:09 PM
I have a 220 meter long line that I can set at 80m, 160m and 220. I used my 857 but never ever heard a thing. Used my vertical, my dipole, and my tower with the umbrella. still no luck.
Title: Re: Have you tried the 160m band?
Post by: gil on November 03, 2017, 04:16:06 PM
Thanks guys. I'm still wondering if 160m is worth a try or not... Its ground wave penetration capabilities are interesting. I learned it was even used in speleology. It makes me wonder if a dipole laid on the ground could work... Other than that, I guess you'd have to use a kite antenna. Not so many prepping applications it seems. Not to mention that very few people use it.

What do you think? Try it? Don't bother?

Gil.
Title: Re: Have you tried the 160m band?
Post by: NavySEAL on November 03, 2017, 06:06:11 PM
Go for it, we need every band.
Title: Re: Have you tried the 160m band?
Post by: Quietguy on November 03, 2017, 09:35:50 PM
What do you think? Try it? Don't bother?

I haven't had an antenna up yet I could tune on 160, but I had a single eye-opening experience with it.   A few years ago I was running NVIS Pactor tests on 80m with some friends, and one wanted to try his NVIS antenna on 160.  He was about 100-ish miles north of me and running maybe 50 watts or less.  I knew I couldn't tune to connect but we decided to see if I could hear his call.  I was switching antennas and had the incoming antenna coax disconnected from the LDG antenna coupler, which was connected to the radio with about 15 or 20 feet of coax.  I was on the telephone with my friend when he hit the connect button early, and damned if his signal didn't couple to my IC-706MkIIG through that 20 feet of coax and my radio tried to answer.  Of course the SWR was through the roof so I hit the power switch to shut down the radio but I was in disbelief over that - his NVIS antenna was one of those run-along-the-fence-top affairs about 5 or 6 feet off the ground.  I don't know how long it was, but it put a strong signal into my radio through maybe 20 feet of coax as an antenna.

Ever since then a 160m antenna has been on my list of things to do since I have the space.  But, physical problems have kept me from doing any antenna work for some time now, so it is still just "on the list".

Yes - try it.  Otherwise you will never know.

Wally
Title: Re: Have you tried the 160m band?
Post by: gil on November 04, 2017, 04:02:16 AM
I guess there is nothing to learn by doing nothing...

Gil.
Title: Re: Have you tried the 160m band?
Post by: LWolken on December 27, 2017, 07:46:57 PM
My experience with 160 meters is fairly limited.  I was able to make a couple contacts with  group of guys from Louisiana and Arkansas one night.  The antenna is a 135 foot OCF dipole with FT-897 and matching LDG external tuner.  The same antenna will not tune up on any of my internal tuners.  Might help that the antenna is 60-70 foot up for better swr.  It may be extremely stable as a band but it won't do any good if nobody is there.
Title: Re: Have you tried the 160m band?
Post by: gil on June 28, 2018, 06:30:02 AM
This idea keeps nagging me... I can't push it out of my head, it comes back a couple months later...

My first choice as a prepping band was, for a long time, 40m. It still is the king of prepping bands, but I find myself liking 80m even more now because it works so well for regional communications. Of course, I keep wondering if 160m with its ground-wave capabilities might offer some advantages... I used to worry about antenna length for 80m but it turned out to be a non-issue with a horizontal NVIS antenna.

That said, one of my other favorite bands is 6m FM using military VHF radios, but I never heard a peep on that band (See my video coming out this Monday 06/28/2018)... I fear it might be the same on 160m after an SHTF event because not many portable radios have the option, a notable exception being the FT-817nd of course. I need to listen to it here to see if there is any activity. My KX2 allows listening to it, but not transmitting.

For the antenna, I would simply make an inverted V dipole with a BALUN at the center, maybe 1.5:1 or 1:1, and elevate it with my 12m pole.

Now I need to find a small 160m CW kit, which won't be easy.

Gil.
Title: Re: Have you tried the 160m band?
Post by: caulktel on June 28, 2018, 06:39:56 PM
A QCX for 160 meters :) Could you imagine how many turns you would need to put on T1?

Joel
N6ALT
Title: Re: Have you tried the 160m band?
Post by: gil on June 29, 2018, 07:19:12 AM
Quote
A QCX for 160 meters :) Could you imagine how many turns you would need to put on T1?

LOL, 80m was hard enough!

Gil.
Title: Re: Have you tried the 160m band?
Post by: LWolken on July 04, 2018, 12:54:10 AM
I've made a few contacts on 160m at night.  Not as many stations on 160 probably due to antenna restrictions via limited space.  Most definitely going to need a long antenna (bulky) or include a 10:1 tuner in your portable kit (bulky).  I think for those reasons alone it will never gain popularity.
Title: Re: Have you tried the 160m band?
Post by: gil on July 04, 2018, 02:53:33 AM
Quite right I'm afraid, though a very thin wire can be used. 80m works wonders though so most people have no reason to try 160...
Gil

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Title: Re: Have you tried the 160m band?
Post by: Andywragg on July 04, 2018, 04:28:34 AM
OK my 2 bits.....

Not to pour water on your bonfire Gil....

You need double the wire you already need for 80m, you need to lug around another piece of equipment to use the band, to find that when you get there there are very few stations active maybe the occasional submarine  (joke). And the size of the antenna needed means it's more likely to be discovered by any OPFOR/aggressor, and all that comes with that.

From a prepping point of view, I'd be looking to make the most efficient use of the resources I have available, that includes time. It doesn't seem very efficient to try and use a band that most operators either wont consider using or are unable to use.

Is it possible, yes, is it practical/resource efficient, not in my view.
Title: Re: Have you tried the 160m band?
Post by: gil on July 04, 2018, 04:31:14 AM
I agree. I might still need to scratch that itch though, just as an experiment...
Gil

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Title: Re: Have you tried the 160m band?
Post by: caulktel on July 04, 2018, 12:43:39 PM
I always marvel at Peter Parker, VK3YE's videos running 160 meters AM/SSB QRP with a kite antenna and dipoles. https://youtu.be/ACiQlOThXR0 There always seems to be someone on the air in Australia and he always works from the beach with the wind blowing. It is a intriguing band alright. I wish I could try it out somehow, but kind of hard from a mobile home park.

Joel
N6ALT
Title: Re: Have you tried the 160m band?
Post by: Quietguy on July 04, 2018, 07:24:10 PM
As I said before, I have no operating experience on 160m...  but I think maybe some options are being overlooked in this thread.  IMHO DX contacts with random hams is not the goal in prepper radio; reliable local/regional comms via NVIS (what RadioRay refers to as "one tank of gas range") is more relevant.  Any horizontal 160m antenna a normal non-contesting ham puts up is going to be primarily NVIS by definition - if we consider NVIS as any horizontal antenna less than 1/8 wavelength above ground (one common definition) then anything below 65 feet is NVIS.

I mentioned earlier in the thread the case where a friend located about 120 miles from me wanted to try 160m on Pactor 3 during the daytime.  He was using his random length doublet mounted about 4-6 feet off the ground on his back yard fence.  It worked well getting to me on 80m so he wanted to try 160.  I could not tune 160 with my main antenna so I was going to try an alternate antenna to see if it would tune and was in the process of switching cables to the remote tuner when he keyed his transmitter.  My Icom IC-706MkIIg, which had only about 20 feet of coax laying on the concrete floor connected to the antenna port, immediately keyed up in response.  I was startled at how strong his signal sounded on my radio and I had to quickly kill the power because there was no antenna load for the radio.  We were coordinating on the telephone at the time and he had inadvertently keyed his rig.  I could not tune the alternate antenna either, so the test was limited to how well I could hear his signal.  Based on the response from the coax, I believe I could have made a Pactor 3 contact with him using a quickly deployed short doublet laying on the ground, or maybe strung a few feet above ground, that was a length chosen to be "tunable" on 160m.

Think about it - a couple of nights ago I sat in my house playing with a tiny little Sony Walkman AM/FM portable radio with a loopstick antenna about 2 inches (5 cm) long, powered by a single AA battery.  I was able to tune in a strong signal from a Vancouver BC AM station 200 miles away.  The station is on 1130 KHz (265 meters) and the signal was solid.  A few nights earlier I had tuned in an AM station in Reno Nevada, 500 miles away, on 780 KHz (385 m) again with a good solid signal.  Ok, both of those are Clear Channel 50 KW stations with tall towers, but 50 KW is only 5 S units better than 50 watts, and I was using a 2-inch receiving antenna.

As the bottom falls out of the solar cycle the upper bands will get very hit and miss.  It has been said that 20 meters is going away as a reliable band; 40 meters will take the place of 20 and 80 meters will take the place of 40.  That means you almost have to go to 160m if you want to replace 80m as the reliable NVIS workhorse.  Your 160m antenna does not have to be an optimum 1/2 wavelength dipole to work, you just need to be able to couple it so your radio sees an acceptable SWR.

As for "nobody there" - well, what is your goal?  If you are doing "prepper" comms you should have an established network of contacts that you are practicing this stuff with.  I'm not talking about a camping trip "help, I've fallen and can't get up" general call for help, I'm talking about staying in contact with people who are important to you.

Wally
Title: Re: Have you tried the 160m band?
Post by: gil on July 05, 2018, 06:42:17 AM
Very good post Wally, thank you.

This is exactly what I am getting at... My recent experiments with 80m have been very successful. I was stupid not to have tried that band sooner because of perceived antenna issues, which did not materialize. For NVIS your antenna can be quite low, even a few feet off the ground. I have a 12m mast which could be used to make an inverted V on 160m. The SotaBeams wire is affordable and available in 100m spools... Maybe a 1.5:1 BALUN is in order, just to milk the transmitter to the max. My thinking is that if I was wrong about 80m being difficult to set up, maybe I am wrong about 160m. Or at least that it isn't as difficult as most operators say it is... Ray is the one who talked me into trying 80m, and he is right about the one-tank range being the most important. 2m SSB works well for that too, but I suspect 80m and 160m would be more reliable. 80m isn't the best during daytime, so I naturally wonder about 160m.

Too bad http://qrpkits.com (http://qrpkits.com) isn't open now, because the Ft-Tut seems like a great rig. There is the 1-Watter on 160m, but I'd rather have 5W. If the Ft-Tut doesn't come back, I might go for the 1-Watter, or something else. Now if a few people inquired about the Ft-Tut to http://qrpkits.com (http://qrpkits.com), that might help, because the owner isn't sure about bringing it back... You guys know what to do!

Gil.
Title: Re: Have you tried the 160m band?
Post by: Pensioner Prepper on July 22, 2018, 06:07:06 AM
I remember when I was about 12 years old monitoring Top Band on a 19 set. Very active band in those days and some stations were mobile. Now that's a challenge and a half.
Title: Re: Have you tried the 160m band?
Post by: Andyh62 on July 22, 2018, 03:43:48 PM
Last year I was just messing about with a mate checking the bands out and we managed a couple of miles on 160M with our PRC-320 portable military manpacks (which just cover the top 20khz or so of the Top Band). We were using the whip antennas and on the low power setting (2W)!  :o

I was at my QTH which is in a valley surrounded on three sides by chalk downs so maybe it does have some ground penetrating properties?

160M is fairly active here in UK for ragchews in the evening, often there are German and Dutch operators using it as well.



Title: Re: Have you tried the 160m band?
Post by: gil on July 22, 2018, 03:48:07 PM
So how low does the 320 go?
Gil

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Title: Re: Have you tried the 160m band?
Post by: Andyh62 on July 24, 2018, 04:52:28 AM
The bottom limit should be 2Mhz but I think they vary, my mate's 320 only goes down to about 1980khz but mine seems to reach and tune down to about 1900khz (Tuner setting A7).
Title: Re: Have you tried the 160m band?
Post by: gil on July 24, 2018, 05:01:18 AM
I'll have to try, thanks!
Gil

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Title: Re: Have you tried the 160m band?
Post by: Andyh62 on July 25, 2018, 03:45:22 PM
I should perhaps add that some of the time we were in AM mode which has a rich and mellow tone not heard on any other band.
Title: Re: Have you tried the 160m band?
Post by: gil on July 25, 2018, 03:52:18 PM
AM definitely sounds better than duck voice SSB!
Gil

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