What Do I Need For VHF SSB ?
Obviously, some sort of transmitter and receiver combo capable of operating SSB on 144 Mhz. This can be a 2 meter all-mode radio, a multiband VHF/UHF all-mode, an HF radio with a transverter, or one of the newer rigs that cover HF and VHF/UHF.
There are several different schools of thought about which setup is best and the decision of which route to go can only be decided by you and your operating preferences and wallet. Most of the Big Guns go the HF/transverter route because the HF rigs performance is generally superior to the VHF only radios. The downside is the complexity involved in getting the transverter to interface properly. The radios that have VHF built in are simpler to install and operate, pretty much plug and play.
Now what about the antenna. A horizontally polarized antenna is a MUST for any serious VHF SSB operation. There are several reasons for this. Foremost is the fact that most man-made interference (i.e., electrical line noise) is vertically polarized and by using horizontal polarization the interference is attenuated by at least 20 dB. Also horizontal gives an added "apparent gain" of 2 to 3 dB because your signal is being reflected by the earth's surface, atmosphere, and ionosphere since they are also "horizontally polarized". You just won't hear a weak DX station if you are using a vertical antenna. So what can you do if you can't put up a large beam? No problem because there are small "stealthy" horizontal omni-directional antennas on the market at quite reasonable prices.PAR Electronics and M2 Antennas are just two companies that manufacture these. They can be used as a base or mobile antenna.
Now here is a REAL IMPORTANT PART. The COAX. DO NOT, repeat, DO NOT use RG58 coax, PERIOD. It may work OK at HF but it is way too LOSSY at VHF. It has a loss figure of 6 dB per 100 foot at 2 meters. That means that for a 25 watt radio, only 6.25 watts will GET to the antenna using 100 foot of RG58. RG8 isn't much better. It has a loss of 3 dB. So then you would only have 12.5 watts at the antenna. And remember that this loss also effects the received signal, too. A much better choice for VHF is 9913 coax or its equivalent. Its loss is in the range of 1.8 dB. PLEASE don't scrimp on the coax.
I don't pretend to be a VHF Guru. These are just my recommendations based on my experiences. Hope to see you on 2m SSB.
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