Category Archives: Simplex Thinking

Transmit strength and signal reports added to simplex net format

We’re making some changes to the Simplex Net starting tonight. To give all net participants more information about propagation and reception we’re making the following changes to our operating procedures:

Two simple changes

  1. During your check-in, please tell us your transmit strength in watts. So your full report should sound similar to: “This is K3MJN. My name is Mike and I’m transmitting from Lititz with 25 watts. My answer to the question of the week is ________.”
  2. Net control will give you a signal strength report when they acknowledge your check-in. The report will be in the Readability-Strength (5-9) format.

What do we hope to gain by making these changes?

We expect to train better operators and have them build better stations!

From anecdotal evidence, it seems that most hams operate on the Simplex Net with their radio set to maximum power, whatever that might be. Good amateur operating procedure dictates that we all use the minimum power needed to get our transmission to the intended recipient. Just because you have a radio capable of 50 watts doesn’t mean you need to transmit at that power all the time.

If you’re new to the hobby, just changed your equipment, or are operating from a new location that might be justified. In any of those cases, you don’t have enough practical experience to know how your station is performing. By sharing transmit strength and signal reports, we’ll all start to gain knowledge and experience together. After you’ve got a few weeks of signal reports back when your operating at “full power Scotty” you’ll be ready to start backing the power down and compare the results.

After a month or two of varying your power each week you’ll have a good idea of how many watts it takes to get your message across the neighborhood, across town, or to the far side of the county. We’ll all learn from practical experience how VHF performance is most influenced by antenna height, line of sight, and good station design. If you’re not “getting out” the way that you desire, you might even decide to make some changes to your station to improve performance. Maybe that means raising your omni antenna another 10-15 feet. Perhaps switching to a different antenna type: dipole, beam, or yagi?

Or you might learn that your transmissions are just fine but your reception isn’t as good as you’d expect–when you find the guy down the street sounds weak even though he’s blasting out 100 watts. It could be time to reposition your antenna, check your feedline, or buy that new higher end rig you’ve been looking at for months.

More info about Readability and Strength reports

Readability and Strength are the first two components of the R-S-T system of signal reporting. Since our simplex net is FM voice we don’t worry about the third component (tone) which applies only to CW. Here’s what the values mean for readability and strength:


2–Barely readable, occasional words distinguishable.
3–Readable with considerable difficulty.
4–Readable with practically no difficulty.
5–Perfectly readable.

Signal Strength

1–Faint signals, barely perceptible.
2–Very weak signals.
3–Weak signals.
4–Fair signals.
5–Fairly good signals.
6–Good signals.
7–Moderately strong signals.
8–Strong signals.
9–Extremely strong signals.

There’s also a fairly good article on Wikipedia about the R-S-T System.

Light Up 2 Meters 8-30-2020

Reposted from the “2 Meter FM Simplex” facebook group…

Light Up 2 Meters Night
An FM Simplex Event
Sunday, August 30, 2020
6PM to 8PM Local Time
On and around 146.52 MHz

Almost every amateur radio operator has a radio that is capable of to meter FM Simplex, it could be a handheld transceiver or an all mode fixed station with stacked vertically polarized yagis, it is the most common band/mode that can connect all amateurs. Whether you operate out in the field, from your mobile, or in your shack, Light Up 2 Meters Night is an opportunity to make new contacts, give your equipment a test, and maybe learn a thing or two about your equipment’s capabilities, so join us for the fun on August 30 at 6pm local time.

Since most 2 meter FM simplex operation is local, your frequency may vary, 146.52 is a good start in most of the USA, however, most simplex activity may be on a different frequency in your local area. The event time is also local, 6PM to 8PM in the time where you are, you don’t have to limit your operations to this time, especially if you are on the edge of a time zone, it is just a window to concentrate the on the air activity so that many contacts are made.

This is not a contest, but you are encouraged to share your experiences with others, via your local nets, clubs, social Internet platforms, etc. So, keep a log of your contacts, share a picture of your station, or maybe take a video of a good simplex contact being made. The purpose is to bring hams together on a common band mode, to find out our station’s capabilities, to make new contacts, and to have fun.

Net Control, Anywhere!

Making the Simplex Net happen each week requires the volunteer services of at least four net control operators that are spread out throughout our working footprint. So what happens when we run short? Somebody has to pick up and move their operations to a suitable location. Last week (5/23/2020) our existing Southern net control operators were unavailable due to other personal commitments and radios that were out of service.

Continue reading Net Control, Anywhere!

What Can Simplex Do for Me?

Simplex on VHF for the most part these days is dead. Or is it?

Read the latest articles in your favorite ham magazine and you will find more opinions then you want. Some say “I listen 16 hours a day and never hear anything” while others seem to live in a simplex paradise and make contacts daily. So my question is: what makes the difference?

Continue reading What Can Simplex Do for Me?