What Frequencies Can a Ham Technician Use? A Guide to the Bands New Hams Can Explore

Just earned your technician class amateur radio license? Congratulations! You now have access to some pretty exciting frequencies across the high frequency (HF), very high frequency (VHF) and ultra high frequency (UHF) radio bands. But with great power comes great responsibility – you need to know where technician licensees like yourself are allowed to operate.

In this comprehensive guide I’ll break down the exact frequency privileges for technician class hams. My goal is to help you understand the band options open to you so you can get the most out of your new license. Whether you eventually upgrade to General or Extra class, it’s good to first understand how to legally and responsibly use your Tech ticket.

So grab your frequency chart and let’s explore the wide world of frequencies newly opened up to you!

Ham Radio Frequency Bands Overview

Before jumping into the specifics, here’s a quick refresher on the ham radio frequency bands:

HF bands – These high frequency bands range from 1.8 MHz up to 30 MHz. They are used for long distance “skywave” communication since the signals reflect off the ionosphere. HF includes 160m 80m 60m, 40m, 30m, 20m, 17m, 15m, 12m and 10m bands.

VHF bands – Very high frequencies cover 50 MHz up to about 225 MHz. Signals are more “line of sight” in nature. VHF includes 6m, 2m, 1.25m and 70cm bands.

UHF bands – Ultra high frequencies span from 420 MHz up to about 3 GHz. Like VHF, UHF signals have more local “line of sight” propagation. Major UHF bands are 33cm and 23cm.

Now let’s look at where technician class hams fit in on these frequency ranges

HF Frequencies and Modes Available to Technician Licensees

While technician class licensees have full privileges on VHF/UHF bands, HF access is more limited. Here are the specific HF frequency privileges for Techs:

80 Meters (3.5 MHz)

  • 3.525 – 3.600 MHz
  • Modes permitted: CW only

40 Meters (7 MHz)

  • 7.025 – 7.125 MHz
  • Modes permitted: CW only

15 Meters (21 MHz)

  • 21.025 – 21.200 MHz
  • Modes permitted: CW only

10 Meters (28 MHz)

  • 28.000 – 28.300 MHz

  • Modes permitted: CW, RTTY, data – 200W max power

  • 28.300 – 28.500 MHz

  • Modes permitted: CW, SSB voice – 200W max power

Some key things to note from this breakdown:

  • Technicians have no phone (voice) privileges on HF, only CW and digital modes.

  • Maximum transmit power on HF bands is 200W PEP.

  • 10 meters is the only HF band where Techs can transmit voice (SSB), but only in the 28.3 to 28.5 MHz segment.

So if you’re craving the excitement of HF operating, CW and digital modes on 10m, 15m, 40m and 80m are how to get your feet wet as a Tech licensee.

VHF/UHF Frequencies – Full Privileges for Technicians

Now let’s move up to the VHF and UHF bands where Techs have full operating privileges. Here’s a reference of the core VHF/UHF bands open to you along with the privileges:

6 Meters (50 MHz)

  • 50.0 – 54.0 MHz
  • Modes permitted: CW, SSB, FM, AM, data – max 1500W

2 Meters (144 MHz)

  • 144.0 – 148.0 MHz
  • Modes permitted: CW, SSB, FM, AM, data – max 1500W

1.25 Meters (222 MHz)

  • 222.0 – 225.0 MHz
  • Modes permitted: CW, SSB, FM, AM, data – max 1500W

70 Centimeters (420 MHz)

  • 420.0 – 450.0 MHz
  • Modes permitted: CW, SSB, FM, AM, data – max 1500W

33 Centimeters (902 MHz)

  • 902.0 – 928.0 MHz
  • Modes permitted: CW, SSB, FM, AM, data – max 1500W

23 Centimeters (1240 MHz)

  • 1240 – 1300 MHz
  • Modes permitted: CW, SSB, FM, AM, data – max 1500W

The key advantage here is that Technicians can use phone modes like SSB and FM across all these VHF/UHF bands, and can transmit at up to 1500W power output.

So for hams who prefer voice modes, VHF/UHF is where the action is at with a Tech license.

Operating Tips for New Technician Licensees on VHF/UHF

Here are some tips for new Techs ready to dive into operating on VHF and UHF frequencies:

  • Program memory channels for calling frequencies like 146.52 MHz FM simplex on 2m and 443.00 MHz on 70cm. This is where you’ll find other hams monitoring and available for QSOs.

  • Get equipped for FM by acquiring a dual band VHF/UHF mobile radio and/or handheld. These are affordable ways to start experiencing local FM repeaters.

  • Consider joining local VHF/UHF nets for regularly scheduled on-air meetings. Nets are a great way to meet local hams and get comfortable with operating.

  • Monitor 2m and 70cm calling channels when able. Respond to any CQs you hear, and don’t be shy about making your own CQ calls.

  • Invest in a directional beam antenna for your VHF/UHF station if able. This will extend your range and open up more signal possibilities.

  • Consider trying weak signal digital modes on VHF for exciting regional contacts out to a few hundred miles. Modes like FT8 are popular on 6m, 2m and 70cm.

  • Get equipped to participate in VHF/UHF contests. Contests are exciting ways to make long distance contacts on these bands during enhanced propagation.

  • Consider joining a local club focused on VHF/UHF operating. Club resources and mentors can help you advance your skills on these bands.

The frequencies above give you a framework – now get on the air and start making contacts! The VHF/UHF bands are a fun place to master your Tech privileges.

Additional VHF/UHF Bands Available to Technician Licensees

Beyond the primary VHF/UHF bands covered above, Technicians also have access to a few additional frequency segments:

3300 – 3500 MHz

  • All modes permitted

5650 – 5925 MHz

  • All modes permitted

10 GHz

  • 10.0 – 10.5 GHz
  • All modes permitted

24 GHz

  • 24.00 – 24.25 GHz
  • All modes permitted

Millimeter Wave Bands

  • Frequencies above 241 GHz
  • All modes permitted

These microwave and millimeter bands allow experimental exploration of emerging technologies at ultra high frequencies. Activities like weak signal CW/digital modes, amateur TV, and moonbounce are popular in these high bands.

Although gear is specialized and expensive, it’s something ambitious Techs can aspire to down the road. Always nice to know these frontiers are open to you, even as a beginner!

Getting on HF Bands as a Technician Licensee

While access is limited, don’t write off the HF bands entirely as a Technician. Here are some tips for exploring HF even with a Tech ticket:

  • Listen, listen, listen! Monitor band activity to learn protocols. Check out SSB nets for a sample of voice operating skills.

  • Set up a CW practice rig – transmitting in Morse doesn’t require an HF powerhouse. A basic QRP CW transceiver and wire antenna is plenty to work global DX.

  • Consider joining a local club with an HF group. Elmering opportunities and club station access are a great way for new Techs to experience HF.

  • Save up for a used HF rig capable of 100 watts output. Pair it with a wire antenna and you’ll be makingCW and digital contacts beyond your backyard.

  • Study up on electronics and get comfortable soldering. Building or restoring vintage HF gear is a rewarding skill that’ll pay off when you upgrade.

The HF journey may start slowly as a Tech, but the privileges give you a foundation to build operating skills that apply across the bands.

Key Takeaways – Make the Most of Your Frequency Privileges

Getting to know the frequencies available to you as a Technician class licensee is key to making the most of your operating privileges:

  • Focus on VHF/UHF for voice communication using FM and SSB. Your Tech license gives you full access to 6m, 2m, 1.25m and 70cm with phone privileges.

  • Explore HF using CW and digital modes only. 10m is best for novice HF operating. Dip your toes into 80m, 40m and 15m as you advance.

  • Maximum HF power output is 200W PEP – an achievable level for starter HF stations. Focus on building skills over power.

  • Listen to HF activity across the bands to learn protocols before transmitting. HF has more established operating conventions than VHF/UHF.

  • Join clubs, participate in on-air nets and connect with local hams. Elmering will help you quickly advance your knowledge and skills.

You’ll enjoy ham radio so much more when you know your band options and understand where you can and can’t transmit. Use this guide as a frequency privilege reference as you embark on your new adventures in the world of ham radio – good DX!

ARRL Band Plan Explained for Beginners Ham Radio

FAQ

What frequencies can ham operators use?

As for ham radio, the FCC has allocated a specific set of frequencies that start at the AM radio band at 1.6 MHz and end at 1240 MHz. This range includes two radio frequency bands, Very High Frequency (VHF), and Ultra High Frequency (UHF). Each has its pros and cons.

What frequencies can I use on a ham radio without a license?

Radios That Do NOT Require a Licenseā€¦ They transmit at 2 watts or less and only operate on pre-set frequencies between 151 -154 MHz in the VHF band.

On which HF bands does a technician class operator have phone privileges?

Remember that while Technician class operators have CW privileges on some other HF bands, they only have Phone, RTTY, and Data privileges on a portion of the 10m band. This is why if you have an HF radio you will want to get your General class license sooner rather than later!

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