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The US Amateur Radio Bands are as follows, with the appropriate license classes for each sub-band listed. This is an adaptation of the ARRL frequency band chart, with some practical commentary about each band. If other hams on e2 have knowledge to add about any of these bands, msg me please.

Also: I realize that the license classes have changed in the last few years, during which time I was not operating. This summary reflects the older licensing scheme.

The legend for each stripe found below is:

1: CW, RTTY and data
2: CW, RTTY, data, MCW, test, phone (FM, AM, SSB) and image
3: CW, phone (FM, AM, SSB) and image
4: CW and SSB phone
5: CW, RTTY, data, phone (FM, AM, SSB) and image
6: CW Only

Lately I have heard many hams complain that since CW is becoming such a novelty, the rather large portion of each band devoted to non-phone communication is too large. I tend to agree with this; voice portions of the bands are now fairly crowded, and the CW portions are not. The FCC should consider revising these allocations.


HF Frequencies

HF frequencies are typified by their over the horizon, atmospheric skip propagation. They are excellent for long distance, inter-country communication. They also tend to be much noisier at times than VHF, requiring you to use that filter called your brain to pull out the signal.

160 Meters

This band is just above broadcast AM radio. The wavelengths, being very long, prevent most amateurs from building the typical directional antennas they do on higher bands. If you want to work 160 meters, a dipole antenna will probably be your best bet. I have not personally used 160 meters a lot, so I can't speak to its use for reaching DX.


55555555555555555555555555555555  Extra, Advanced, General
|              |               |
1.800        1.900           2.000 MHz

80 Meters

This is a fairly low frequency band. Again, most amateurs have to use wire antennas here. If you are clever enough, and have a tower, you might tune up the actual tower itself to use for an antenna on 80.

80 meters is very good for regional communication. You will find many regional emergency nets on this band during the evening.

         3.675     3.775 
 3.525     | 3.725 |   3.850
   |       |  |    |    | 
   |       6666    |    |          Novice, Technician Plus
   11111111111111  |    333333333  General
   11111111111111  33333333333333  Advanced
111111111111111113333333333333333  Extra
|               |               |
3.500        3.750            4.000 MHz

40 Meters

This is a fairly low frequency band, however the wavelength is short enough that you can build a yagi-style antenna to operate here if you have enough room, money and guts for it. The rest of us are still stuck with dipoles.

40 meters is also very good for regional communication. You will also get some DX on 40 meters. There are many shortwave radio stations outside the US located on 7 Mhz, so you will find large amounts of interference on this band at night.

  7.025   7.100       7.225 
   |       |            |       
   |       666666       |          Novice, Technician Plus
   11111111111111       333333333  General
   111111111111113333333333333333  Advanced
111111111111111113333333333333333  Extra
|               |               |
7.000         7.150           7.300 MHz

30 Meters

30 meters is a non-voice band. I have not done much operation on it. You are limited to 200 watts PEP on this band.


11111111111111111111111111111111  Extra, Advanced, General
|                              |
10.100                      10.150 MHz

20 Meters

20 meters is probably the most reliable HF amateur band there is. During the day there are many national clubs and nets that have check-ins on this band.

  14.025     14.150    14.225
   |            | 14.175 |       
   11111111111111  |     33333333  General
   11111111111111  33333333333333  Advanced
111111111111111113333333333333333  Extra
|               |               |
14.000        14.150          14.350 Mhz

17 Meters

I really like 17 meters. It's a very small band but it's very good for long-distance contacts.


11111111111111133333333333333333 Extra, Advanced, General
|              |               |
18.068       18.110         18.168 MHz

15 Meters

15 meters is another excellent band for DX contacts.

 21.025                               
   |    21.1  21.2      21.3
   |       |   |         |
   |       66666  21.25  |         Novice, Technician Plus
   11111111111111  |     33333333  General
   11111111111111  33333333333333  Advanced
111111111111111113333333333333333  Extra
|               |               |
21.000        21.200          21.450 Mhz
12 Meters

I have never operated on 12 meters.


11111111111111133333333333333333  Extra, Advanced, General
|              |               |
24.890      24.930         24.990 MHz

10 Meters

Ahh yes, the venerable 10 meters. This band is awesome in a way that cannot be described when the sunspots are good. If the spot count is high, you can talk all the way around the world on 5 watts at 28 MHz. If the spots are down, however, 10 meters sucks.

10 meters is one of the most plentiful bands in terms of available space. It is also the only band that novices and tech pluses can use phone transmissions on.

  28.1     28.5    
   |         |   
   11111144444                     Novice, Technician Plus
111111113333333333333333333333333  Extra, Advanced, General
|       |                       |
28.0   28.3                   29.700  MHz

Novices and Technician Plus are limited to 200 watts PEP on this band.

6 Meters

From what I hear, 6 meters behaves sort of like HF and sort of like VHF, depending on ionization conditions. You can make DX contacts on this band if the conditions are right. I have never operated on 6 meters so maybe another amateur can add some more information.

  50.1    
   |  
666622222222222222222222222222222  Extra, Advanced, General, Novice, Technician/Tech Plus
|                               |
50.0                          50.4  MHz


VHF Frequencies

VHF Amateur frequencies are typified by increasing line-of-sight propagation, compared to the ionospheric skip obtained at HF. At VHF, antennas can be much smaller, and very high-gain systems can be constructed that take up little space.

2 Meters

2 meters is a very accessible band. Antennas and radios for this band are compact and convenient. tmospheric ducting is known to occur on 2 meters which sometimse allows you to talk for several hundred (or even a thousand) miles. Long-range contacts on 2 meters is a challenge.

Back when the Technician class was introduced (meaning you didn't have to pass a morse code test to operate), there were a ton of people that flocked to 2 meters. It propagates fairly far, and is excellent for repeater operation. Unfortunately, this is why I hate 2 meters. In my humble opinion it has become like citizen's band.

  144.1    
   |  
666622222222222222222222222222222  Extra, Advanced, General, Technician/Tech Plus
|                               |
144.0                          148.0  MHz

1.25 Meters

I have no working knowledge of 1.25 meters.

     
   
222222222222222222222222222222222  Extra, Advanced, General, Technician/Tech Plus, Novice
|                               |
222.0                          225.0  MHz

Novices are limited to 25 watts PEP on this band.

70 centimeters

There are a lot of repeaters found on 440 MHz. You will find a lot of transceivers that do 2 meters and 70 centimeters in a "dual band" configuration.

      
222222222222222222222222222222222  Extra, Advanced, General, Technician/Tech Plus, Novice
|                               |
420.0                          450.0  MHz

33 centimeters

I have no working knowledge of 33 centimeters.

 
666622222222222222222222222222222  Extra, Advanced, General, Technician/Tech Plus
|                               |
902.0                          928.0  MHz

23 centimeters

I have no working knowledge of 23 centimeters.

                1270     1295   
                 |         |
                 22222222222       Novice
666622222222222222222222222222222  Extra, Advanced, General, Technician/Tech Plus
|                               |
902.0                          928.0  MHz

Novices are limited to 5 watts PEP on this band.



Sources: ARRL, http://www.arrl.org


Note: Amateur frequency bands and allocations differ from country to country, but are generally the same throughout the world.

Thank you evilkalla for your outline of the US frequency allocations.

As of 2010, the band allocations have shifted to reflect a restructuring of the license system. A revised chart can be found at http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Hambands_color.pdf

The new frequency revisions are as follows. All revisions are based on the Amateur Extra (full license) privileges. The license classes have been reduced to three (Technician, General, and Extra). The old Technician Plus holders have been folded into the Technician license at renewal time. Novice and Advanced licenses are no longer issued. These licenses are still renewable, however.

CW (morse code) enthusiasts like myself have lost radio spectrum and voice of "phone" operators have gained spectrum. Unlike evilkalla, I consider the reduction of CW/data mode space unfair. The elimination of the morse code licensing requirement has flooded the airwaves with voice-only operators. The reduction of CW bandwidth is an unfortunate sign that CW is declining in popularity. CW is by no means a novelty -- thousands of hams use it daily. Yet a balkanization of operators into CW/data versus voice operators had been developing even before the end of morse code testing.

It's important to note that CW may be used on any amateur radio frequency save the five channels on the 60 meter band. However, there is a bit of bad blood between the code and voice operators. The bandwidth divisions between code and voice are de facto boundaries that must be obeyed save for emergencies.


75/80 METERS.

CW and data modes begin at 3500 kHz and end at 3600 kHz. Voice now extends from 3600 to 4000 kHz. Previously one could run CW and data up to 3750 kHz. CW operators have lost 150 kHz of spectrum -- a sizable loss.


60 METERS.

The IARU or Internation Amateur Radio Union has alloted five channels on the following frequencies for General, Advanced, and Extra licensees:

5330.5 kHz
5346.5 kHz
5366.5 kHz
5371.5 kHz
5403.5 kHz

USB (upper single sideband) only. 50W peak envelope power maximum "relative to a half wave dipole per the ARRL. In other words, no fancy multibeam or yagi antennas on rotors. No other ham radio band carries antenna restrictions.

The SSB carrier must be exactly centered within approximately 3 kHz. In other words, this is a frequency band that is shared with more important users. Great care must be taken to avoid interference such as splatter (i.e. running mike gain too high.) Again, the channelization and carrier requirements are very strict by amateur standards.


40 METERS

The frequency band for CW has been reduced 25 kHz. The current allocation for CW is 7000 -- 7125 kHz, with voice from 7125--7300 kHz.


1.25 METERS

General, Advanced, and Extra licensees may now operate SSB from 219 -- 220 Mhz. The 222 -- 225 Mhz FM portion is unchanged.

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