Amateur Bands

Band Summary/Overview

Amateur Radio Band (metres) UK Allocation MHz
160 1.810 – 2.000
80 3.500 – 3.800
40 7.000 – 7.200
30 10.100 – 10.150
20 14.100 – 14.350
17 18.068 -18.168
15 21.000 – 21.450
12 24.890 – 24.990
10 28.000 – 29.700

160 metres (Top Band)

UK Allocation MHz
1.810 – 2.000

The lowest of the HF bands, this allocation is generally restricted to day-time short range contacts at ranges up to approximately 300 miles, which is due to D-Layer absorption. After sunset, the radio waves are reflected by the atmosphere allowing signals from Europe and afar to be received.  Top Band is not a sole allocation for UK Amateurs and in general the band falls between 1.81 and 2.0 MHz allocation of the band.

Top Band characteristics are similar to the MF band, it is used for relatively local radio contacts during the day when signals are propagated via a ground wave and together with choice of transmitter power and antenna types, the coverage distance is 50 miles or more. After sunset when the ionospheres D-layer disappears, coverage distance increases and it is often possible to receive stations several hundreds of miles away. In some circumstances it is possible to make transatlantic contacts when conditions allow.

Top Band can support very long distances when the whole propagation path is in darkness, and show even more improvement at dawn and dusk for stations on the other side of the world. These signal path enhancements usually last for 10 – 15 minutes at maximum, often less.

For the shorter east-west signal paths there can be a peak at sunrise or sunset, whilst north-south paths often peak at around midnight. The general rule is long-distance work improves in winter due to longer periods of darkness and lower levels of static electrical noise. As this does not correspond with optimum conditions in the other hemisphere, it means that these signals may be heard at any time of the year.

80 metres

UK Allocation MHz
3.500 – 3.800

The 80 metre band is within the HF part of the spectrum and can have quite high noise levels.  and at night the level of static electrical noise can be high.

During the day stations can be received up to a few hundred miles away, making it an ideal band for medium distance contacts and at night range is greatly extended up a distance of over 1000 miles. The band improves when there is a sunspot minimum, but can perform well at any time.

Propagation along the grey line, that is the line along which dawn / dusk occurs can produce excellent results with stations from the other side of the world being globe being received like local stations. grey line communications are short lived and vary with location but are best in the Spring and Autumn.

40 metres

UK Allocation MHz
7.000 – 7.200

During daylight hours, 40m provides coverage of approximately 500-miles and is typically good for so-called ‘inter-G’ contacts together with good contacts to most of western Europe. Then as the sun sets, the band starts to go use long-skip paths making UK-stations harder to receive, but then favouring North and South America for example. The 40m band provides a good mix of short-haul contacts by day and worldwide communications at night.  During the day, stations up to a few hundred miles can often be received and then at night the distances over which stations can be received increases markedly and local stations fall in strength. The band is good for use during low parts of the sunspot cycle, whilst being capable of long-distance reception after sunset, with even greater performance when combined with grey-line signal paths.

30 metres

UK Allocation MHz
10.100 – 10.150

This band is a WARC allocation resultant from the World Administrative Radio Conference held in 1979 (WARC 79) and can provide good range results. Its characteristics are similar to those of the 40-meter band and is therefore capable of providing good long range reception, which improves at night, which should enable global communications especially with grey-line signal paths. It is also capable of long-distances during periods of the sunspot minimum, when ionisation levels are lower and absorption is sufficiently low to support longer-distance reception throughout the day.

20 metres

UK Allocation MHz
14.000 – 14.350

This band provides the majority of long distance communications, reliably providing long-distance contacts during all phases of the sunspot cycle. During the day, reception of about 2000 or 3000 miles is possible when conditions are good and reception from 500 and 1500 miles is almost guaranteed at any time. At night the band will close, especially during the winter and during periods towards the sunspot minimum. Spring and autumn normally produce good results, with stations from the other hemi-sphere being heard with ease at various times of the day.

In the early morning signals arrive from the east and typically from the other side of the world, then when these signal diminish local signals will become prominent, then there may be improvements to the west as the Sun rises in that direction. As the afternoon approaches the band may become open from the west and there may be band openings to the other side of the world as sunrise approaches. In the evening, as the levels of ionisation fall, the local signals will fall in strength, leaving long-distance stations to the west.

17 metres

UK Allocation MHz
18.068 -18.168

This band is like the 30m band and was allocated following the WARC 79 conference.  In terms of performance, it is very between the 15m and 20m bands, although somewhat narrow, it is nonetheless popular and worth using when when conditions support it.

15 metres

UK Allocation MHz
21.000 – 21.350

This band tends to be more variable than the 20 metre band, as it is affected by the state of the sunspot cycle. During a sunspot peak the band can be open during the day and well into the night when it will support propagation over many thousands of miles. Conditions are usually poor in the early morning, but improve as the day progresses. During a sunspot minimum few stations may be heard during the day and none at night.

12 metres

UK Allocation MHz
24.890 – 24.990

This band is the highest frequency released at WARC 79 and is capable of providing good communication results compared to 15 or 10 metres.

Like 17m this band is quite narrow but worth checking when conditions support it. The band is greatly affected by the position of the sunspot cycle and it has many similarities with 10 metre band.

10 metres

UK Allocation MHz
28.000 – 29.700

This band is the highest-frequency in the short-wave (HF) portion of the spectrum and can provide worldwide coverage when conditions are good. When there is a sunspot minimum it can support only ionospheric propagation via sporadic E which occurs mainly in the summer months, providing propagation over distances of 1000 miles or so.

At sunspot cycle peaks, it provides excellent long-distance communications of very high signal strength. enabling it to support radio stations with low power and poor antenna performance to make contacts over long distances. In general, propagation on these frequencies requires that the signal path is in daylight, or at the peak of the sunspot cycle the band may remain open into the night, but it will eventually close.

Activity in the SSB portion of the band is often concentrated between the beacon section and 28.60MHz and a little above. However, it is worth taking a look above this, particularly in contests because stations may also be active in this sector.