I pursued Amateur Radio primarily for local emergency communications and as part of my electronics education. My only radio right now is an inexpensive 2m/70cm HT which is good for local weather spotting and emergency operations.
I'm interested in talking to other Amateur Radio users around the US, but I'm trying to keep my costs down. I know that many amateurs can make contacts worldwide on various bands at very low power levels, but many of them require specific conditions. I'd like to be able to talk with others around the US regardless of the conditions.
What bands and modes best suit these requirements, in order of importance:
- USA Amateur Radio bands
- Voice contacts
- Long distance (3,000 miles, 4,800km, or more)
- Unconditional access (don't want to worry about time of day, minor weather effects, etc)
- Low cost of setup (including antenna cost)
- Low power usage
- Small footprint (doesn't require acres of antennas)
The first four are critical. If there is no band or mode at any cost that fits these needs, then the question cannot be answered. If multiple solutions exist for the first four, then narrow them down or rank them according to each of the next three requirements. For instance a lower cost with a bigger antenna footprint would be preferable to a solution that cost more but had a smaller antenna footprint.