I like ten metres! And I like ten metres FM. There's a simplicity to it as well as a real magic; that a band that can be dead quiet one minute can be filled with 'hi-fi' quality signals from Europe or further afield, the next!
I was first introduced to 10m FM back in the early 1980s, before I had my Class A licence and was only on VHF. Mark, G4MEM (who reads this, I know!) bought a bunch of converted CB radios; DNT M40FMs, as I recall, and made them available to members of our local club, the Cheltenham Amateur Radio Association. We all had so much fun with those radios, both with local QSOs and more distant ones. I remember just as soon as I changed from G6TTU to being G4VXE, being thrilled to be able to transmit on the rig as opposed to just listening.
It was surprising how far the ground-wave would go, even with 4w from a barefoot rig to a mobile antenna on a car. We worked over as far as Wales from the Gloucestershire area and well up to the north. You just needed a well-sited mobile up on a hill somewhere.
And of course, in the summer, the Sporadic E comes up and makes all sorts of contacts possible. Back in the mid 80s, there was a G station with a F0 call who operated a lot of 10m FM from his yacht in the Med - he could be worked most days during the summer.
Wind the clock forward to 2001 and the D68C operation, where I was one of the operators on the Comoros. We made thousands of contacts on 10m FM - some to Europe, many to Japan and China. Indeed, one of my abiding memories of the 3B9C expedition from Rodrigues is going on 10m FM and working masses of stations from China and Taiwan. Because the equipment is simple and cheap, there's no cost barrier to getting on the air - and there's a fantastic level of activity from that area.
A couple of summers ago, I had the FT-817 in the car and the 10m antenna on the car and was delighted to make some good contacts with the barefoot rig - just 5w. Almost back to the converted CB days!
Now, I'm lucky enough to have the FT8900 with 50w available in the car. Over the next few months, I'm going to make sure that I'm on 10m FM as often as I can. I'm keen to work far afield, of course, but I'm just as interested to make contacts over a few miles or tens of miles too. So, when I can, I'll put the 10m whip on the car and give it a go. And from home, the FT1000MP/Butternut works well on 10m as well!
What do you need to have a go, as I hope you will?
- A ten metre antenna - perhaps an old CB vertical or mobile - whatever you have.
- A set capable of 10m FM - Most newer sets will do this. Don't worry if you've only a few watts - it will easily suffice.
- A little knowledge; The calling frequency for 10m FM is 29.600MHz. Channels are spaced at 10khz, so you'll generally find people on 29.620, 29.630 and so on. But 29.600 is the place to start. You'll find some repeaters too, when the band opens up. Repeater offsets are generally 100Khz LF of the output, so if you hear a repeater on 29.620 (there's several in Europe), the input will be on 29.520. When the band opens up - the repeaters can be bedlam. Go simplex!
That should be enough to get you started.
I hope you'll have a go! Don't just listen on 29.600Mhz, do call CQ - 10m has a habit of surprising people by being open when you don't expect it! Sometimes it's open, sometimes it's closed. That's the magic of radio propagation.
See you on ten?