VHF/UHF DX Book Review

VHF/UHF DX Book

A Book Review

Bob Witte, K0NR

23 November 2002

I recently purchased a copy of The VHF/UHF DX Book edited by Ian White G3SEK and published by The Radio Society of Great Britain (copyright 1995). This book has been available for quite a while now but I just had not gotten around to looking at it until I was at a ham radio convention a few weeks ago. I wanted to see the book first hand before making a purchase.

The short story is that this is a great book that covers the nuts and bolts of VHF/UHF operating. The book takes a very practical approach but also includes enough math analysis to satisfy my desire for being able to calculate the expected communication performance. A good example of this is the section on calculating path loss. Some books I’ve seen just use the hand-waving approach that describes the phenomenon but leaves out the ability to analyze a situation with precision.

The book covers the various VHF propagation methods including troposphere refraction, troposphere ducting, aurora, sporadic-E, F2-layer, meteor-scatter, moon bounce and much more. I still have lots to learn about VHF propagation so I plan to re-read those sections again and hope more of it sinks into my brain.

The authors also do a good job of explaining the principles and applications of antennas and feed lines for VHF and up. Some of the topics included are antenna gain, pattern, feed impedance, bandwidth, capture area and stacking of antennas.

There are only a few areas for improvement in the book that I see. The book is a little bit dated since it was published in 1995. The basics have not changed much since then but missing from the book is coverage of high-speed meteor scatter, especially the fast-growing use of PC sound cards and digital signal processing (DSP). In fact, there is no mention of any of the DSP-based modes which have mostly emerged since 1995. Since the book is published by the Radio Society of Great Britain, it uses the UK spelling of certain words and includes coverage of the 70 MHz band (which is of no use to US radio amateurs). I can see a real opportunity for a book like this that is updated and focused on US amateur operation.

In summary, I’d recommend this book for anyone starting out in VHF/UHF weak-signal work as well as some of the more experienced radio amateurs. This book is a key addition to radio and electronics library and one that I will refer back to in the future.

The book is available from the ARRL at

http://www.arrl.org/catalog/index.php3?category=RSGB+Publications

Contest of the Book

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: VHF/UHF Propagation

Chapter 3: Operating

Chapter 4: Assembling your Station

Chapter 5: Receivers and Local Oscillators

Chapter 6: Transmitters, Power Amplifiers and EMC

Chapter 7: Beam Antennas and Feedlines

Chapter 8: 144 MHz

Chapter 9: 50 MHz and 70 MHz

Chapter 10: 432 MHz

Chapter 11: Power supplies and Control Units

Chapter 12: Test Equipment and Stations Accessories

From the back cover:

When the VHF and UHF bands open up for DX, they can produce some truly exotic signals. If you start to get interested, you could soon be hearing the throaty sound of signals reflected back from an aurora, the stunning strength of sporadic-E signals, the startling meteor-burst of SSB or high-speed Morse….And one day — if you really go for it — you could be hearing your own signals echoing back from the moon.