Tuning Tips for SSB

Tuning Tips for SSB

Stan, K4SBZ

Here are a few random tips for tuning in stations on SSB during Field Day (and during contests). They do not apply to other modes.

Precision. Most stations operate on even multiples of .25 MHz. For example, 14241.000, 14241.25, 14241.50, 14241.75, 14242.00. Some spotting stations will erroneously spot at 14241.1 or 14241.6.  .25 and .75 are problems with the DX Cluster. The only report to one decimal place, therefore, they report as .20, .30 .06 or .08. Follow the spot and then correct to the proper frequency or you will be 10 kHz off. (Sometimes stations do try to squeeze in between the .25 frequencies, especially operators that are accustomed to other modes.)

Tuning Step. If your receiver has a tuning step, set it to .05 (50 kHz). Setting it to .100 will make it impossible to tune the .25 and .75 stations precisely. Setting it to .01 will make tuning slow and is unnecessary.

Tuning Upper/Lower Sidebands. Stations operating above 10 MHz will normally use upper sideband (USB); stations below use lower sideband (LSB). When tuning through a band, it is usually easier to tune in stations as you approach them from their operating frequency in the direction of the sideband. For example, approach a station on 7.214 from the upper side down his operating frequency (7.214.2, 7.214.15, 7.214.10, 7.214.05 and stop at 7.214.0). For USB, start low and tune up. 

Automatic Gain Control (AGC). Most radios now have automatic gain control (AGC). For SSB, setting you AGC to medium or slow will give the best results. Try it on a loud (but not blasting) signal to see what you prefer.

Bandwidth. Remember that an SSB signal is 2.7 kHz (2700 Hz.) wide. If you have a bandwidth control/bandpass filter, setting it to 3.0 or 2.7 would be normal. With a crowded band, setting it at 2.0 or even slightly lower will partially suppress stations that are near the one you want to copy. Setting it too narrow will distort the sound.

Understanding the SSB bandwidth will guide you on where to try to transmit if you are in the running mode (calling CQ). You should pick a frequency that won’t interfere with other stations and where other stations won’t interfere with you. If someone is on 7.214 MHz, you shouldn’t get any closer than 7.122 below or 7.216 above the station. If you could go a full 3.0 kHz away from him, you would be giving even more room for your 2.7 kHZ signal. You need, of course, to check that there is enough room on the other side of you so as not to interfere with or be interfered by another nearby station. Bottom line is that you need a 4-6 kHz wide opening where there are no signals. You should then ask, “Is this frequency in use?” at least twice before operating.

Field Day Questions/Tips From Other Club Members


Question from Don (KK4SIH):

Since I will be operating using my callsign (1D/E) should I upload my contacts (QSOs) to LoTW or QRZ etc so that others can claim the contacts for other purposes or do field day contacts not count for other purposes?

Answer from Stan (K4SBZ)

Many people upload Field Day contacts to LoTW, eQSL and QRZ. Although there is no contest, any contacts that you make at any time (Field Day, DXing, ragchewing, etc.) count for certificates such as WAS, Worked All Counties and the CQ WPX Award. 

If you have a good day, you could make WAS in one day on Field Day.

Don’t forget to upload to 3830Scores.com to get a quick look at how you and our club are doing for FD.

Answer from Gerry Gross (WA6POZ)

You can upload your contacts to LOTW since you are operating from home your QTH and grid square have not changed. 

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Comment from Paul ( KN4TRT) 

Thanks for the nice breakdown discussion in the Field Day Band Forecast.  I just want to point that you missed one of the most important watering holes.  JS8 mode, according to the statistics give at pskreporter.info, is consistently one of the top 4 utilized digital modes.   I have included a list of frequency settings for JS8 in the table below, but as a general rule, the JS8 frequencies are 4 kHz above the FT8 frequencies.

160m:   1.842000 MHz

 80m:   3.578000 MHz

 40m:   7.078000 MHz

 20m:  14.078000 MHz

 15m:  21.078000 MHz

 10m:  28.078000 MHz

   6m:  50.318000 MHz

   2m: 144.178000 MHz

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Comment from Mike (N4JEL)

This might be of interest to anyone who wants an information overload. It looks like a club presentation. It is a fat file. The thoughts on which station class to use are helpful.

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/e/2PACX-1vSWypTtJ_R0s-UmysOEhQWwJwBlMrOavXqfs5AvigQzad8Z1c3JFn9TMl5ewxc8VVIIX-2g6bOTpUFD/pub?start=false&loop=false&delayms=3000&slide=id.g774df1657a_0_3

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Comment from Austin (KN4YRH)

I would like to have you use these two videos on the site to help introduce ham to others.  This is what I used to get people interested.

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Comment from Don (KK4SIH)

Reminder that our “Club or Group Name” is “Tallahassee ARS” when you submit your scores

The main ARRL Field Day site is at:  http://www.arrl.org/field-day

All of the information that has or will be sent out is located on the club web site at http://k4tlh.net