Monday, 16 March 2015

What is the point of FM on the 4 metre band?

It is now five years since I installed 4m FM at this location. Time for a review.

Of course I have been on and off 4m AM and FM for almost 40 years, but this relates to the period since I arrived here.

VHF FM is viewed as a local chat mode, so you would expect me to have worked a lot of locals. My Sirio J Pole antenna is mounted on a pair of T and K brackets, as shown.

The figures for fixed stations look like this over the five years:-

Total number of GM stations worked = 6
Total number of G stations worked = 2

Not a whole bunch for a five year period. Only 3 of these 8 are still active on the band.

If you widen the scope to include the number of stations which drive past down the busy A1 road, which links Edinburgh with London, the figures increase, but not much. I have worked one GM mobile one G mobile, and one in both jurisdictions. Then there area couple of people up hills and things, 4 GM portables, and 4 G portables.

The point is that I have been keeping a watch on this local FM band for five years for almost no result in terms of local stations. The only variety has been a few hill toppers and drivers happening to pass by. Don't believe all this stuff about local FM activity all over the UK.

But here are few other statistics, again for fixed stations ...

Total number stations worked -- Scotland = 6   Finland = 10
Total number of stations worked in England = 2 Total of countries worked = 13

So I have worked 66% more Finns on this local band than Scots. And I have worked 13 countries, but only 2 fixed stations in England. In fact, I have worked 22 stations outside the UK, compared to 2 in England. England is less than 5 miles away.

Lumping in all the non-fixed stations = 22 stations oustide the UK, compared to 20, all types, including /M and /P, anywhere in the UK. Even to get the 20 for the UK, I have added the mobile station I worked as he travelled between G and GM as being in both countries. So he counts as two stations!

I would offer this advice to anybody thinking of buying a 4m FM radio. Forget the locals and try to work some DX. It is there. If you are looking for 4m FM activity in most parts of the UK expect VERY low activity levels, but wait for the Summer and work some DX. It is tons more fun.

The DX potential makes it worth it for me.

There is no need for somebody to tell me that SSB would have netted a lot more DX. I know that, and I have worked 33 countries on that mode. But here we are talking about FM, a mode where ex-PMR rigs can be found for £30 or so and we all use simple antennas.

I bet the same story applies to 6m FM.


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