organized into two segments. Digital transmissions such as CW (Continuous
Wave, meaning, Morse code), radio teletype
(or RTTY), and data occupy the
lower segment. Voice signals occupy the higher segment. Within each of these
segments, the lower frequencies are where you tend to find the long-distance
(or DX) contacts, special-event stations, and contest operating. Casual conversations,
known as ragchews, and scheduled on-the-air meetings (nets) generally take place on the higher frequencies within each band.
Depending on which activity holds your interest, start at one edge of the listed frequency ranges and start tuning. While tuning, use the
widest filters your radio has for the mode (CW, SSB, or FM) that you select.
If every voice you hear seems scrambled, your rig is probably set to receivethe wrong sideband. Change sidebands and try tuning again.
Because the ionosphere strongly affects the signals on the HF bands as theygo from point A to point B, the time of day makes a big difference. On the lower
bands, the lower layers of the ionosphere absorb signals through the day, but
disappear at night, allowing signals to reflect off the higher layers and reflect
over long distances. Conversely, the higher bands require the sun’s illumination
for the layers to reflect HF signals back to Earth, supporting long-distance
hops or skips.