Ham Radio is a great hobby for those who love to talk on the radio. Whether you like talking to your family and friends or you want to make new connections, ham radio is an excellent way of doing so.
However, there are many different distances that you can speak over this radio service.
In general, you can expect to reach about five miles in any direction.
This means that if you are operating at home, the farthest distance is about six miles in every direction (North, South, East and West).
But what happens once you get out of your local area? Well this all depends on a number of factors.
In this article, we will discuss three different ranges, with some tips on how far each one can reach as well as what kind of equipment you need to use them effectively.
To start with, here are the broad range categories that amateur radios fall into:
Short Range Radio
Short-range is the shortest of our three and can reach a distance of maximum 1000 kilometers (or about 620 miles). This means that you would be able to talk with people in neighboring countries such as Canada, Mexico etc (if you’re in the USA). The maximum power output for a short distance would be 50 watts on HF bands or 25 watts on VHF/UHF.
Short-range radios are usually hand-held radios that are compact and easy to carry. Some popular short-range radios are the ICOM IC-W32A, Yaesu FT60R and FTM100DR.
Medium Range Radio
Medium range is a bit more reasonable, but still quite long. As you would imagine this means that it can reach around the globe and thus will allow you to talk with people who are on different continents. The maximum power output for medium distance would be 100 watts on HF bands or 50 watts on VHF/UHF bands.
Medium range radios are usually easy to carry and still compact. Some popular medium-range radios are the Yaesu VX-150 and the Icom IC-2100H.
Far Range Radio
Far range is, as implied, a very long distance. This means that it can reach around the world and thus you will be able to talk with people from completely different parts of the planet. The maximum power output for this range would be 800 watts on HF bands or 50 watts on VHF/UHF bands.
Popular far-range radios are the Icom IC-7851 and the Kenwood TS-480.
- *Please note that these recommendations are for the standard antennas and not beam directional ones which can increase power output by a lot.*
High Frequency (HF)
High Frequency (HF) is a frequency range from 3 to 30 MHz. It is used for long-distance communication, at distances up to about 160 kilometers from the transmitter.
HF can also be used as a band for two-way contact between ships and aircraft, as well as for broadcasting. It is used for all sorts of radio communication like voice, data, or video.
Very High Frequency (VHF)
VHF stands for Very High Frequency, which is a frequency range from 30 to 300 MHz. It is used for general communication, broadcasting of TV signals, two-way radio communication on land-based networks, and the control of remote devices such as radar systems or garage door openers.
VHF is also used where physical conditions are bad or for communications on the move. VHF sets are often battery-powered with rechargeable batteries available. This type of radio may be better suited to light duty operations than HF radios.
Ultra-High Frequency (UHF)
UHF is the most popular range for commercial radio systems, including cell phone networks. It can transmit further than VHF but has a smaller frequency band so it doesn’t travel through buildings as well.
Super High Frequency (SHF)
The Super high frequency or SHF is located between 30 and 300 GHz, with wavelengths from ten to one millimeters.
SHF is used for shortest-distance radio communication. It can be divided into three ranges: EHF (Extremely high frequency), SHF(Super High Frequency), and VTHF (Very Very High Frequency). The last range is mainly used by satellites because this range can travel through outer space.
How far can handheld ham radio reach?
The range of a handheld ham radio is going to vary on how it is being used. It all depends on the type of antenna, propagation conditions, and a few other factors.
You can get a range of up to 10 miles with an outdoors handheld ham radio with a good antenna.
The range will be extended dramatically if you have an outdoor handheld ham radio with an external antenna mounted on an automobile roof or tower.
If you are using a handheld ham radio indoors, the range will only be as far as 50-70 feet, depending on the antenna used and your proximity to the transmitting set – the point from which your signal originates.
What is the longest distance Ham Radio operators can talk over?
The longest distance that a ham radio operator can talk over is between South America and Africa. This span of the Atlantic Ocean is approximately 5000 miles (8000 km).
Do radio waves transmit through water?
Yes, radio signals can travel through and around water (such as oceans), but the further away they get from it/the more obstacles in-between them and the receiver’s antenna will reduce how far you can talk over ham radio by quite a bit.
What is the maximum distance that you can talk on ham radio?
The absolute maximum distance that you can talk over with a ham radio is around 4000 miles (6400 km). This would only be possible during something like an emergency if both antennas were high enough, such as up on top of mountain peaks or skyscrapers.
How do I increase the range of my ham radio?
To increase the range of your ham radio, you want to ensure that you have a high-quality antenna that is capable of sending and receiving a clear signal.
You also want to ensure that you are using the right power settings for your ham radio, as well as any additional accessories such as filters or amplifiers.
Additionally, it is important to determine what kind of terrain will be between both ends (if there’s water like an ocean in-between, that’s going to be a major obstacle) and then experiment with different power settings until you find one that works.
How far can you talk on a repeater?
A repeater can talk on ham radio to another station that is up to 70 miles away, depending on the height of each antenna. The distance you are talking over will also be determined by how far your antennas are from one another.
If they’re close, then you’ll have a shorter range than if they’re farther apart. You would need to climb on top of the roof, for instance. If you are trying to talk over a repeater that is 70 miles away from your house and it’s only 30 feet above the ground, then you will probably not be able to receive or make any transmissions through it because there’s nothing high enough in between both antennas.
Ham radio transmission ranges
Ham radios can generally be grouped into three categories according to how far they can talk over ham radio.
50-watt ham radio transmission range:
In most cases, about 100 miles at night and between 25-45 miles during the day. In some instances, you can reach up to 300 miles by utilizing a clear path with no obstructions in your line of sight.
40-watt ham radio transmission range:
About 70 miles at night and between 25-40 during the day which is a little more than a 20-watt set.
20-watt ham radio transmission range:
About 35 miles during the day and 25 at night, both of which are excellent distances for local communications when you consider how many obstacles there can be in between two points on land.
These ranges will also vary depending upon how high your antenna
As you can see, ham radio has a variety of different transmission ranges depending on the power output and how much interference is in-between your antenna and the receiver’s antenna.
We hope that this article has helped you to understand the differences between the various transmissions and how far you can talk over ham radio.
I have been passionate about the world of communications in its various forms for most of my life. Ever since I first found an old ham radio stashed away in my uncle’s attic, I have had a fascination with this classic technology.
Having the ability to communicate with people without the need to rely on telephone lines or networks is an empowering feeling which I believe everyone should have at least a basic knowledge of. Becuase who knows when you might need it?
I setup fieldradio.org with this passion in mind, to help inform people about the amazing possibilities of amateur radio and I’m on a quest to help educate as many budding operators as possible.
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