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HF Ham Bands and Frequencies

HF Ham Bands and Frequencies

HF Ham Bands and Frequencies

If you're new to ham radio, these articles contain information that new ham radio operators should keep handy while gathering experience. You'll find these references to be just what you need while learning to navigate the radio bands and make contacts. Bookmarking the websites in your web browser will help while you're online, too.

There is a good variety of ham bands or amateur radio allocations within the HF portion of the short wave spectrum. These ham radio bands or frequency allocations are open to radio hams around the world to use although the actual ham radio allocations do vary slightly from country to country and region to region. However a broad view of the ham radio band allocations can be given, and this is accompanied below with an overview of the properties of the different allocations for radio amateurs.

Technician class frequency privileges in ham radio

When you're getting started, remembering where you’re allowed to operate is important. As a Technician licensee, you have full access to all amateur frequencies above 50 MHz, but what about on the shortwave high-frequency (HF) bands? This chart helps you follow the rules. You can transmit with up to 200 watts PEP A band-by-band plan showing where to find different types of activity is available from the American Radio Relay League (ARRL).

Band Frequencies (In MHz) Modes You Can Use (200 watts PEP maximum power)
80 meters 3.525 – 3.600 CW
40 meters 7.025 – 7.125 CW
15 meters 21.025 – 21.200 CW
10 meters


28.000 – 28.300 CW and RTTY/data
28.300 – 28.500 CW and phone
Above 50 MHz All amateur privileges

General class frequency privileges in ham radio

Soon, if you haven’t done so already, you’ll be thinking about upgrading. You have many more frequencies to use on the high-frequency (HF) bands, as shown in the following table. A complete chart of the U.S. frequency and mode privileges for all license classes is available from the American Radio Relay League (ARRL).

Band Frequencies (in MHz) Mode
160, 60, 30 meters All amateur privileges
80 meters 3.525–3.600 CW, RTTY, data
3.800–4.000 CW, phone, image
40 meters 7.025–7.125 CW, RTTY, data
7.175–7.300 CW, phone, image
20 meters 14.025–14.150 CW, RTTY, data
14.225–14.350 CW, phone, image
15 meters 21.025–21.200 CW, RTTY, data
21.275–21.450 CW, phone, image
17, 12, 10 meters All amateur privileges
Above 50 MHz All amateur privileges

Common ham radio Q signals

Hams use three-letter Q signals on every mode and even in face-to-face conversation. Here are the Q signals most commonly used in day-to-day operation. Each signal can be a question or an answer, as shown in the Meaning column. A complete list of ham radio Q signals, including those used on nets and repeaters, is available via the AC6V Operating Aids web page.

Q Signal Meaning
QRL Is the frequency busy?
The frequency is busy. Please do not interfere.
QRM Abbreviation for interference from other signals.
QRN Abbreviation for interference from natural or human-made static.
QRO Shall I increase power?
Increase power.
QRP Shall I decrease power?
Decrease power.
QRQ Shall I send faster?
Send faster (__words per minute [wpm]).
QRS Shall I send more slowly?
Send more slowly (__wpm).
QRT Shall I stop sending or transmitting?
Stop sending or transmitting.
QRU Have you anything more for me?
I have nothing more for you.
QRV Are you ready?
I am ready.
QRX Stand by.
QRZ Who is calling me?
QSB Abbreviation for signal fading.
QSL Did you receive and understand?
Received and understood.
QSO Abbreviation for a contact.
QST General call preceding a message addressed to all amateurs.
QSX I am listening on ___ kHz.
QSY Change to transmission on another frequency (or to ___ kHz).
QTH What is your location?
My location is ____.

The HF bands are by far the most popular bands in the amateur service. Local contacts and world-wide propagation are all possible at almost anytime with careful selection of the right frequency for the time of day, time of year, and current state of the sunspot cycle. For specific characteristics of each band, click on the links below.

The 3.5, 7, 14, 21 and 28MHz bands are the bands where contests can be found. The 10, 18 and 24MHz bands, also known as the WARC bands, are kept free of contest activity by international agreement, which now also includes the 5MHz band.

80 metres: 3.500 – 3.800MHz

60 metres: 5MHz

40 metres: 7.000 – 7.200MHz

30 metres: 10.100 – 10.150MHz

20 metres: 14.000 – 14.350MHz

17 metres: 18.068 – 18.168MHz

15 metres: 21.000 – 21.450MHz

12 metres: 24.890 – 24.990MHz

10 metres: 28.000 – 29.700MHz


There is a variety of different ham radio bands that can be used within the MF and HF portions of the radio spectrum. By choosing the correct amateur band or allocation, it is possible for a radio amateur to maximise his opportunity of making the sort of contacts he or she requires. For those ham radio enthusiasts, a good knowledge of the properties of each of the ham bands is essential, and this should be combined with up to the minute information about the state of the amateur bands and the stations that are active. Using all of this information, along with skill and experience can enable contacts to be made with many rare and interesting ham radio stations.

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