Tuesday, May 20, 2014

146.52 Reasons to Monitor VHF Simplex

Before things get out of hand, I have to be honest: I don't actually have 146.52 reasons for monitoring simplex prepared.  Still, there are plenty of reasons, so I hope you'll stick around.

As I'm sure you are aware the Dayton Hamvention was last weekend and I attended it with my father, W2PJM. We had a lot of fun, but I can honestly say that one of the best parts was the ride there. We left NJ early on Thursday morning and monitored 146.52 the whole trip. After a few hours of quiet, some chatter broke through the squelch and we began to hear other Hams moving in the same direction. Before we knew it, we were chatting it up on simplex.

I make a point of monitoring 146.52 whenever I drive. It's a habit that my first Elmer W6LSW instilled in me. Around home, I almost never hear anyone on simplex. I put out a call occasionally, but I'm rarely met with a response, but I still monitor it with dogmatic fervor. Why? I'm so glad you asked.

It's an Easy Way to Meet New People and Get Information

How many times have you been riding down the highway when a car that resembles an AWACS flys by in the fast lane? Don't you want to know how he or she can fit that many antennas on a car. Wouldn't you like to see a picture of the dashboard of such an aerial-laden vehicle? Well, if you were both monitoring 146.52, you'd have the answers to you questions.

Let's explore another scenario: You are driving through a new or unfamiliar area and you forgot to program your mobile for the local repeaters. You scan and can hear them, but you cannot remember how to use that nifty CTCSS code scan function the salesman convinced you was worth an extra $100. If you jumped on 146.52 and there were other Hams monitoring (or at least scanning it), you could have an answer.

Like Morse Code, It's a Universal Ham Standard

Arguably, the best thing about Morse Code is that it is ubiquitous. Any Ham that learns the code, quickly redoubles his/her reach in the amateur community. It simplicity and consistency lend the code to being a Ham Standard. Even Hams that don't know the code, know what it sounds like and can probably pound out a few letters--even if it's just S.O.S.). The same goes for 146.52. If every Ham in the world (or at least the USA) took the time to monitor and make calls on simplex, there would be a more universal feel to the VHF allocation rather than tiny little cells and haunts or local repeater groups.

In an Emergency...

Except in cases of dramatic tropospheric ducting, VHF signal are regulated to reasonably short-range communication. This is not the case with a repeater. With the advent of linking and internet connectivity, you might ask for help on a repeater and be talking to someone that is at the farthest conceivable geographical point from you or they may even be floating above you in an orbiting space vehicle. 

Generally speaking, if you can work someone on VHF simplex with a mobile rig (35w or so) or HT (5w or less), they are close enough to help you out in a pinch. So, if you happen to run out of gas, get a flat tire, or find yourself navigating the aftermath of a natural disaster, being able to raise a like-minded Ham on 146.52 could prove very helpful.

The Problem

The problem is, most Hams don't monitor VHF simplex anymore. Why? Who knows? The most reasonable argument I have heard is, "No one is ever there." While overstated, it isn't far from the truth. The point is, unless a large chunk of us start to monitor and use the frequency, it will be continue to be silent and worthless. 

The Solution

The solution is simple. Tune into 146.52 simplex whenever you can. Announce your call and see if anyone responds. If you hear another, return the call. Program the channel into your scan lists too. You can still spend time working your buddies on the repeater, but why not try and contact them simplex; whether it's on 146.52 or some other frequency. And, if you ever see my little black coupe rolling down the highway, give WE2F a call, I'll be listening. What about you?


  1. Some of my favorite QSOs have been on VHF simplex. It's always exciting to call out and hear someone come back. With the hilly terrain in my area, long-range communication is common. I've routinely talked with guys a hundred miles away when we both happen to be on hills with some elevation. Nice write-up.

  2. I agree, I love to meet new Hams and I find that I do so, most often, when rolling down the road and calling or listening on simplex. Thanks for the comment and 73.

  3. Listening on .52 is like a box of chocolates...you never know what you are going to get.

  4. And UHF is DEAD on field day... what's that about?

  5. IKR?

    Just think of all the fun that could be had trying for distance with a directional antenna!

  6. Field day rotator = a smiling new Technician (GOTA)

  7. 146.52 is so popular in my area that it spills over onto 146.500 & 146.550. All three are in my scan list & we even have a simplex swap & trade net every week. Repeaters are great when you need them but simplex feels friendlier and more relaxed. Good article!

  8. Thanks. I wish simplex was that active around here. In fact, I wish the repeaters were active around here. I can't find anyone on VHF or UHF to talk to half the time.

  9. When the repeaters are dead, simplex seems to be busy here Twin Cities, MN. Why simplex you ask, well here are just a few answers:
    1) No repeater curchunkers.
    2) No people trying to jam your transmission with their HT on the repeater.
    3) The people on simplex seem to have a better grasp on what ham radio is and not just appliance operators.
    4) No LOUD CW Repeater ID'ers. ex; A local 'south' repeater here in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area with a FRS Roger Beep after every single transmission. Good God!
    5) No Voice ID'ers bragging about how good their repeater is.Talk about One-Way Broadcasting Transmissions...

    Simplex is a breath of fresh air at times. 73'ss
    Dan KA0SDU

  10. I monitor 52 in my truck wherever I go. It's a joy to find a random passerby or a local trying out their new rig.

    Regarding the comments about simplex: ditto!

    Wes KE4TWI

  11. Below is a link for custom bumper stickers that let other hams on the road know you are monitoring 146.52 and are custom with your call sign. Lets support eachother and monitor the frequency http://www.cafepress.com/teesbytom.1631070527

  12. URGENT !!! 146.52 SIMPLEX
    Recently the ARRL Board of Directors decided to change the Rule 1.8 prohibiting 146.52 from contests use. Imagine, 146.52 the "National Simplex Calling Frequency" now will be filled with contesters, This new Band Plan Rule 1.81 goes into effect Jan 1, 2016. Everyone who does not want contesters on 146.52 needs to contact the ARRL board members at http://www.arrl.org and tell them to change it back to the way it was, where contesting was prohibited on 146.52 simplex.


    Rodger Skinner

  13. It is only for 1 weekend a year isnt it. There are some guys out there with big antennas on 52 that would like to see how far they could make a contact, isnt that what ham radio is all about ? The contest is over now ,and here in KS. not 1 contest call was heard on 146.52 and I have some big ears. Dave n0mua

  14. It would be great if we could drive down the highway and be able to chat with other hams as we go. The problem is, a few years ago when the ARRL opened up .52 for contest. Now we have the mountain topper (SODA) tying up that frequency nearly every weekend. On Field Day both the SODA and FD stations were talking over each other for contacts. Meanwhile, the other simplex frequencies sat unused. In the Portland area, we now have an evening group on .52 that don't like to follow the rules of ID'ing, using foul language on occasion, etc. .52 has gotten pretty bad.

  15. ARRL sucks in some of their decisions and we pay the morons to join their click.I don't monitor 146.52 due to some of the high profile tower owners who keep it tied up with the same useless BS day after day and do not have enough sense to switch onto another frequency when they make a contact.Yes I am talking about the guy in Tennessee!!!

  16. We started a twice-weekly Simplex Net on 146.415 34 months ago and we're still going strong, growing as we move forward, having 48 Hams on our mailing list, and average about 13 check-ins twice a week. Because of this, it has become our default local frequency to monitor here in Mt. Juliet, TN. See our website at http://146415.net

    ALL Simplex is local, so, it seems obvious that one must promote it and use it regularly, which we do, as it is very common to hear the frequency in use in our area.

    Paul K4PEW Mt. Juliet, TN

  17. Let's start a .52 Friends club on Facebook! It will encourage more hams to go on simplex, and maybe even help them get to know some of the hams who reside in their own neighborhoods! They could even set up a time in the evenings where they could all meet up! :)

  18. Dave WD9HBA Freeburg, IllinoisJuly 15, 2017 at 9:01 PM

    146.52 is very active in the Metro East St. Louis area. You can find someone monitoring the frequency just about 24 hours a day.

  19. You could also use Voice Alert on APRS. program one memory with 144.390 MHz with 100 tone on transmit and receive. When you hear packets on it - put out a call and change to a chat channel if you get a reply. This is the APRS Voice Alert - http://www.aprs.org/VoiceAlert3.html

  20. Perhaps ARRL or Repeater Group could publish the locally established Simplex Frequencies because still, in spite of all the carping, hardly anyone monitors 146.520.

  21. I had a chat with WD0K last night on 146.52
    I keep a radio on monitoring and every once in a while I get a QSO with someone on the frequency.
    True no roger beeps or courtesy tones just plain ol' radio.
    Simplex is the way of the new world


  22. Fine business, Chris!! Simplex is King in our area of Middle TN 15 miles East of Nashville. We have up to 24 check-ins on our twice-weekly Simplex Net and have a ball during other parts of the week.

    Repeater folks don't know what they're missing....
    Paul K4PEW

  23. so that the row will apply to all addresses that start with A.B.C but have any possible value (1-254) for the D part of the address, the specification would look like this (if A, B, and C were 9, 30, and 222, respectively):
    Melbourne Video Intercom Systems

    1. Sometimes you can get more contacts by monitoring 27.185 Mhz!

  24. Been monitoring 146.52 in our RV trips for a dozen + years. Heard someone have a qso in TN once and actually answered a CQ in Atlanta once. 3 people heard in 12+ years and thousands of miles. I still scan it, but I sure wouldn't take the time to CQ it... :)

  25. If you're travelling through Middle TN, call out on 146.415 FM simplex. Odds are you'll get a reply; there are dozens of us monitoring the frequency. Hope to hear you on the air!!

  26. Repeaters are sort of like cheating. simplex is the best

  27. I monitor .52 when traveling. The frequency is marked in plain text on both of my cars. At least in the PNW, it's a dead zone.