Why QRV on microwave

Home Microwave

Many Ham's but also many microwave professionals, are convinced that microwave frequencies cannot be used for other than line of sight contacts.

What is then all the fun of Ham radio on microwave

Don't believe this silly idea that using microwave frequencies we cannot work more than line off sight distance
With ham equipment on microwave there are many ways to make contacts over large distances
Especially on the microwave bands below 40 GHz distances over several hundreds of kilometres are possible
On bands below 30 GHz even Earth Moon Earth contacts are possible

I can assure you there are many ways of having fun as a Ham on microwave frequencies.
You can have fun in making DX contacts or discovering the different propagation possibilities but also you can have a lot off fun
 in building your own equipment and getting your system operational.
Being QRV as Ham on the microwave bands gives you many ways off learning and improving your skills and last but not least
 many microwave HAM's have learned that much, that they can easily meet or even outperform professionals.

Contacts are possible using different types of propagation and on most microwave bands, QSO's over much more than line of sight, are always possible.
During most of the time contacts over several 100 km's are possible.
During good tropo conditions contacts over more than 1000 km are possible even when using a marginal system

World records on microwave Ham radio contacts prove that these bands are very interesting and challenging

 Building and improving equipment can also be quite challenging
Using modern technology and high tech components it's nowadays possible to realise equipment which were not possible 10 or more years ago.
Average Ham equipment has become more state of art with higher sensitivity levels, larger antenna's and more power output, resulting in more and much bigger distances as in the early days.

My personal fun in microwaves for many years now, is building and improving my equipment, discovering propagation possibilities.
Since I was first QRV on microwave, 1980's learning the possibilities and improving and discovering new unknown propagation was my big fun, learned a lot and still learning new ways of having fun on microwave.
Last years introduction of Software Defined Radio improved the way of operation and opened up new challenges in making two way contacts.

If you get bored of local QSO's over your local or wide area repeater network
 you should join the world of microwave Ham radio.
You will enter a world with many new challenges.
It's up to you what you prefer to do, but be sure your hobby will never be a dull moment.


What are the most used Ham radio microwave bands

The HAM frequencies above 1000 MHz,the microwave bands

A very interesting band with lot's of activity and very good dx-possibilities is 23 cm as the first microwave band.
 with 1296 MHz as centre of narrow band activity

On this band it's not very difficult to build equipment and even commercial equipment is available for Ham's not willing to build their own equipment.

Antenna's are also available commercial but for high antenna gain ones, best choice will be to build or buy a dish reflector
 and using it with a single band or multi band feeder.

I have been using a 2.5 mtr dish for almost 20 years now, mounted on 10 mtr above ground in an area with not so many high trees.
Mechanical constraints in Dutch climate close to the cost must be encountered, my dish survived wind force 11
 so be careful not to appeal to the well known statement
"did your antenna survive the storm, then it was not big enough"
It's far more challenging to build the antenna system to have a big system surviving the storm
In my years as HAM I lost my antenna system now 2 times, now a build heavy constructions and use 10 mm thick steel gay wire.
It's no fun losing an antenna system just because it was too weak.

Its important to have the antenna at a height that it can radiate clear from nearby obstacles as buildings or trees.
The more free air your antenna can see the better your take off.


The activity on SSB and CW on the different microwave bands in Europe

Frequency Activity My Best guess activity in EU most important propagation World record using tropo
1296 MHz good activity 800 stations EME, tropo, AS 4151 km
2320 MHz reasonable 200 stations EME, tropo, AS 4024 km
3400 MHz reasonable 150 stations EME, tropo, AS, RS 4024 km
5760 MHz reasonable 200 stations EME, tropo, AS, RS 3983 km
10.368 GHz Good 600 stations EME, tropo, AS, RS 2793 km
24.048 GHz low 100 stations EME, tropo, RS 581 km
47.088 GHz very low 40 stations tropo. LOS 344,8 km
76.233 GHz very low 30 stations tropo, LOS 289 km
120 GHz extremely low 10 tropo, LOS 132 km
240 GHz extremely low 5 tropo, LOS 114 km


For latest info on world records also on  EME and digital modes take a look at this page
So it is clear that working DX over distances more than line off sight is even possible on the bands up to 76 GHz.

Building own equipment for microwave is sometimes a challenging task.
Do not start with the most difficult projects but start with a project which suits your experience and possibilities.
Most modern designs use small SMD components and especially for the MM wave bands often even much smaller components.

Being a microwave Ham for more than 40 years I experienced a change in building microwave equipment. First off all it has to do that microwave parts and components were very hard to get 40 years ago. One had to build from scratch, making own designs, design a circuit board and getting all components together and build it and tune it to the used frequency.

Nowadays building own equipment is much more block building were different modules are build together to realise a modern system. There are many modules available on the market as new modules or as surplus available via Ebay.

Another reason for more module building than component building for me personally is that by getting older it's more difficult to see and handle the small components. In my early days I was able to glue the very small beam lead components onto millimetre design boards. Also it was no problem soldering small SMD components without magnifying glasses and much light. Now I need a big magnifying glass and much light to be able to handle the SMD parts. I am still able to work with these but it's much more difficult as before and with the available microwave modules it's the best way to continue building microwave equipment.  


Pages on this website for microwave and mm-wave:

My 47 GHz equipment

The first ever 47 GHz QSO in PA (in Dutch language)

47 GHz QSO's in the Netherlands

47 GHz DX-pedition between F and G

24 GHz First ever QSO from PA to G

Making power on 24 GHz with a 18 GHz TWT

24 GHz prime focus feed for an F/D of 0,4

24 GHz Dual band feed for 10 and 24 GHz

24 GHz Omni antenna

My 76 GHz equipment