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160 meters refers to the band of radio frequencies between 1,800 and 2,000 kHz, just above the mediumwave broadcast band. For many decades the lowest radio frequency band allocated for use by amateur radio, before the adoption, at the beginning of the 21st century in most countries, of the 630 and 2200 meter bands. Older amateur operators often refer to 160 meters as the Top Band[a] It is also sometimes referred to as the "Gentleman's Band" in contrast to the often-freewheeling activity in the 80 and 20 meter bands.

Frequency allocationsEdit

The International Telecommunication Union currently allocates all frequencies from 1810–2000 kHz to amateur radio operations in ITU Region 1 (Europe, Greenland, Africa, the Middle East west of the Persian Gulf and including Iraq, the former Soviet Union and Mongolia) and 1800–2000 kHz in the rest of the world.[1]


The 160 meter band is the oldest amateur band and was the staple of reliable communication in the earliest days of amateur radio, when almost all communications were over relatively short distances, and typical operating frequencies were below 20 MHz.

In the UK 160 meters was the primary band used for mobile operation for many years. Despite many obstacles and threats from commercial and military radio, the efforts of a small number of determined 160 meter operators enabled the band allocation to survive.


The band was allocated on a worldwide basis by the International Radiotelegraph Conference in Washington, D.C., on 4 October 1927.[2] The allocation at that time was 1715–2000 kHz.


The International Radio Conference of Atlantic City reduced the allocation to 1800–2000 kHz under the provision that amateurs must not interfere with LORAN operation.[3]

As the high frequency (HF) bands were developed in mid-1920s – along with their smaller, more feasible antennas – 160 meters fell into a period of relative disuse. Although there has always been activity on the band, fewer and fewer hams are willing (or able, due to lack of sufficient real estate) to put up the antennas necessary to take advantage of the band's unique properties. For most amateurs, the HF bands are much easier to use, and HF antennas need a lot less real estate.

During World War II all amateur radio licenses were suspended, prohibiting amateur transmission on any radio band.

Gradual restorationEdit

After World War II, it first seemed that the 160 meter band was not coming back, since a large part of the U.S. 160 meter band was allocated on a primary basis to the LORAN radio-navigation system that began operating in and around the 160 meter band in 1942. Amateurs were relegated to secondary, non-interfering status, with severe regional power limitations and restricted day/night operations on just a few narrow segments of the band.

Many older hams recall, with no great fondness, the ear-shattering buzz-saw racket of high power LORAN stations that began in 1942 until LORAN-A was phased out in North America on 31 December 1980, and most of the world by 1985. LORAN-A was still operating in China and Japan in 1995. Great ingenuity was used to eliminate the pulse noise of the powerful LORAN-A transmitters through such famous circuitry as the "Select-O-Ject" of the late 1950s. The technology was adapted to modern noise blanking circuits used in current amateur receivers and transceivers.


The band experienced a resurgence with the demise of LORAN-A in the United States in December 1980, and the removal of power restrictions below 1900 kHz soon thereafter. Power restrictions above 1900 kHz were removed in March 1984, and 160 meters was then no longer regarded as the "abandoned" band, as it had been for more than half a century.[citation needed] Also, with the 21st century allocation of two more bands at lower frequencies, 160 meters is no longer the only mediumwave band, and no longer the lowest-frequency amateur band.

Technical characteristicsEdit

160 meters is populated by many dedicated experimenters[citation needed], as it is a proving ground for ingenuity in antenna design and operating technique. It also serves as a "training-ground" for the 630m and 2200m bands, where logistical and technical demands are even more extreme.

Size, power, and safetyEdit

Effective operation on 160 meters can be more challenging than most other amateur bands, because of the overwhelmingly large sizes required for efficient antennas. Full-sized antennas (on the order of a quarter-wavelength or more) are over 130 feet for monopoles, which is also the recommended height for mounting a horizontal dipole antenna, and half-square loops reach nearly 70 feet high. That much real estate may not be feasible for many amateurs, and even with space available, erecting and securing such a large structure is a challenge.

The size of the safety zone around an antenna depends on several factors, including the power fed to the antenna, but is roughly 30–40 m (100–130 ft) from the center of the lowest radiating part of the antenna.[citation needed] If high power is used to compensate for an under-sized antenna, even a small antenna will require a full-sized safety zone around it, free of people and animals. Nevertheless, many radio amateurs successfully communicate over very long distances with relatively small antennas.


During the day propagation is limited to local contacts, but long distance contacts are possible at night, especially around sunrise and sunset and during periods of sunspot minima.

Much about ionospheric and propagation on 160 meters is still not completely understood. Phenomena such as "chordal hop" propagation are frequently observed, as well as other unexplained long-distance propagation mechanisms. Inexplicable radio blackouts occur on 160 meters – sometimes also on the AM broadcast band. Many of these phenomena have been investigated in the scientific community also[citation needed].

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Top band" possibly refers to the position of 2000 kHz very nearly at the top of the medium frequency band (MF); it is the highest amateur band within MF.


  1. ^ "Amateur HF Bands". Retrieved 28 May 2013.
  2. ^ "International Radiotelegraph Conference" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 March 2014. Retrieved 11 February 2010.
  3. ^ "International Radio Conference of Atlantic City (1947)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 July 2012.

External linksEdit

Range Band ITU Region 1 ITU Region 2 ITU Region 3
LF 2200 m 135.7 kHz – 137.8 kHz
MF 630 m 472 kHz – 479 kHz
160 m 1.810 MHz – 1.850 MHz 1.800 MHz – 2.000 MHz
HF 80 / 75 m 3.500 MHz – 3.800 MHz 3.500 MHz – 4.000 MHz 3.500 MHz – 3.900 MHz
60 m 5.3515 MHz – 5.3665 MHz
40 m 7.000 MHz – 7.200 MHz 7.000 MHz – 7.300 MHz 7.000 MHz – 7.200 MHz
30 m[w] 10.100 MHz – 10.150 MHz
20 m 14.000 MHz – 14.350 MHz
17 m[w] 18.068 MHz – 18.168 MHz
15 m 21.000 MHz – 21.450 MHz
12 m[w] 24.890 MHz – 24.990 MHz
10 m 28.000 MHz – 29.700 MHz
VHF 6 m 50.000 MHz – 52.000 MHz[x] 50.000 MHz – 54.000 MHz
4 m[x] 70.000 MHz – 70.500 MHz N/A
2 m 144.000 MHz – 146.000 MHz 144.000 MHz – 148.000 MHz
1.25 m N/A 220.000 MHz – 225.000 MHz N/A
UHF 70 cm 430.000 MHz – 440.000 MHz 430.000 MHz – 440.000 MHz
(420.000 MHz – 450.000 MHz)[y]
33 cm N/A 902.000 MHz – 928.000 MHz N/A
23 cm 1.240 GHz – 1.300 GHz
13 cm 2.300 GHz – 2.450 GHz
SHF 9 cm 3.400 GHz – 3.475 GHz[y] 3.300 GHz – 3.500 GHz
5 cm 5.650 GHz – 5.850 GHz 5.650 GHz – 5.925 GHz 5.650 GHz – 5.850 GHz
3 cm 10.000 GHz – 10.500 GHz
1.2 cm 24.000 GHz – 24.250 GHz
EHF 6 mm 47.000 GHz – 47.200 GHz
4 mm[y] 75.500 GHz[x] – 81.500 GHz 76.000 GHz – 81.500 GHz
2.5 mm 122.250 GHz – 123.000 GHz
2 mm 134.000 GHz – 141.000 GHz
1 mm 241.000 GHz – 250.000 GHz
THF Sub-mm Some administrations have authorized spectrum for amateur use in this region;
others have declined to regulate frequencies above 300 GHz, leaving them available by default.

[w] HF allocation created at the 1979 World Administrative Radio Conference. These are commonly called the "WARC bands".
[x] This is not mentioned in the ITU's Table of Frequency Allocations, but individual administrations may make allocations under "Article 4.4". ITU Radio Regulations.. See the appropriate Wiki page for further information.
[y] This includes a currently active footnote allocation mentioned in the ITU's Table of Frequency Allocations. These allocations may only apply to a group of countries.

See also: Radio spectrum, Electromagnetic spectrum