Getting on the HF bands for the first time is one of the most exciting times for anyone that holds an Amateur Radio Operator license, especially for the ham operators who are brand new to HF or will soon be getting on HF with the new "HF" privileges using voice on 10 meters and CW privileges on 80, 40, 15, and 10 meters.
This article is especially written and tailored for the new operators using their newly earned privileges authorized by the FCC on February 23, 2007 on 10 meter voice
and newly upgrading General class hams.
Exciting Times Ahead and What to Expect!
For me, earning the privilege of HF operating was......well beyond words to describe!
But here are two or three that will help you!
Normal and DX Operating on HF is very different from the 2 meter, 6 meter, 440 and bands higher.
You won't be using repeaters on HF like on 2 meters and the other bands you are accustomed to if you are a Technician class ham. General class hams have this privilege on the upper end of 10 meters! You will strictly be in direct contact with the station on the other end, much like simplex on 2 meters. Your contact may be on the other side of the town you live in or on the other side of the world or in between using HF frequencies.
Depending on the time of day, propagation, the band you have selected, the mode you're using, and many other variables, your contacts may be "loud and clear" or almost down in the noise.
You will have to accept major interference from Mother Nature's lightning crashes, solar storms, power line and other man made device noise and sometimes just too many stations on or near your frequency.
The HF ham bands can be very CROWDED especially during contests and DX'ing!
Let's face it, worldwide, there are several million Amateur Radio Operators using the same bands and modes and most probably, the same frequencies although they may not hear all of the other stations on the frequency. This is just the nature of propagation, antennas, differences in power levels and other variables.
HF ham radio operating can be a challenging adventure at times when all of those variables are working against you so don't expect crystal clear FM quality as if your operating on a repeater on the 2 meter ham band all of the time. It's kind of like going fishing, sometimes you have a great catch with strong signals, and other times, not a nibble!
Don't give up, you will make contacts!
Helpful Suggestions and widely used procedures for the "Newbie" on HF
If you're new to Ham radio, you need to know that ham bands have "Official Observers"
listening on all bands!
They are ham radio operators just like you and I.
You could be communicating with one and never know it.
Their responsibility is to observe infractions of the Part 97 rules and regulations and to inform you of these infractions and if you continue, report them to the proper authority, the FCC.
Don't give them a chance to complete their responsibilities!
They really don't want to.....but they will and do all the time!
Probably the most important thing you need to remember when transmitting is:
Transmit your call sign CLEARLY!
FCC Rules and Regulations Part 97
Sec. 97.119 Station identification.
(a) Each amateur station, except a space station or telecommand
station, must transmit its assigned call sign on its transmitting
channel at the end of each communication, and at least every 10 minutes
during a communication, for the purpose of clearly making the source of
the transmissions from the station known to those receiving the
transmissions. No station may transmit unidentified communications or
signals, or transmit as the station call sign, any call sign not
authorized to the station.