If you accidentally came upon this website or are new to VHF you might be tempted to ask, “Why 2M SSB?”. It’s a fair question to ask given the digital modes.
Single Side Band on VHF, specifically 2 meters has its advantages. Where FM is enhanced by repeaters and clarity, SSB goes the distance as they say by going longer distance than FM and FM repeaters can take you. Yes, you can go to a linked repeater system and get all the way to Timbuktu, but that is not the same as going straight RF to RF over the air without need or use of the internet to make the connection.
There is something to be said about the satisfaction one feels from collecting a new grid square and or making a 300-1,500 mile contact over 2 meter SSB. Two meter SSB also covers the gap between what HF can not cover due to being too close to other stations.
And you can do much of the same things you do on HF on 2 meters. For example you can go portable, go mountain toping, SOTA, POTA and the various VHF contests. CW is alive and well on the CW portion of the 2 meter band. And there are still some amatuers on 2M AM.
There is also the advantage of needing a smaller antenna over the large ones needed for HF. The smaller antennas are easier to carry if one is going portable and they are also easier to hide of one has antenna restrictions where they live. 2 meter SSB requires horizontally polarized antennas. Whereas FM requires a vertically polarized antenna.
2 Meter Disadvantages
The down side to 2 meter operation is mainly that most manufactures don’t include all mode as part of their VHF radios. Amateurs pay an exorbitant price for mobile and HT radios and only get one mode for all their hard earned money.
Those looking to get on 2M SSB, CW or digital modes, must buy a VHF or an HF/VHF/UHF all mode radio. These radios are not cheap. Though a few of them are affordable (see list below).
One way around having to buy an all mode radio is to buy a transverter. These units are usually have just one band (2M, 1.25cm 70cm, 1.2Gh). They are attached to an HF transceiver and to the 10 meters band where they will then allow the operator to go on the band on the transverter. Transverters range in price from $75-600 or more. The low price transverters can be found on ebay from Ukrainian sources. The higher end units can be purchases at Down East Microwave.
2M/70cm All Mode Radio
The following are 2M/70cm allmode radios:
Icom – 7100 – $950
Icom – 9100 ($2,000)
Icom – 9700 ($1,600?)
Yaesu-817ND (No longer sold but can be found 2nd hand)
Yaesu – 818 ($799)
Yaesu – 857D ($839)
Yaesu FT-897D (No longer sold but can be found 2nd hand)
Yaesu FT-991 (No longer sold but can be found 2nd hand)
Kenwood no longer sells VHF/UHF all mode radios. Though you can still pick up a TS-2000 if you look for it online.
So is 2M SSB worth it? Yes it is! Besides being a great mode, you also get to speak to and make friends with a great group of hams. Most of them close enough to actually get to have lunch with. You can’t say that about HF. If you don’t have 2M SSB equipment ask around on the 2M/70cm repeaters and you will come across someone whom you can visit for a demonstration of this excellent mode. 73 from N2LRB.