Ham Radio’s Forgotten Bands: 220mhz and 900mhz

The short-lived project of the Alinco DJ-G29T is proof that the 1.25 meter and 33 centimeter bands of the amateur radio spectrum are forgotten bands. I tk981apurchased one of these radios a few months ago when I read online that it was being discontinued, and I wanted to get a new one before they were all gone. It is a neat little radio that is front face programmable, like most amateur radio HTs, but unlike any other 900mhz radio that I have seen to date, all of which require computer programming and software.

Moving on from that little radio, my purpose of this post is to share my views and opinions about why the 1.25 meter and 33 centimeter amateur radio bands seem to be forgotten.

When I was first licensed in 1994, the most inexpensive radio I could buy was the Radio Shack HTX-202 mono-band, 2 meter only, 12 memory channel HT. This radio sold brand new in the store for $189. You could also buy the 70 centimeter version of this radio, which had the same memory channels and features, for the same amount of money. Back then, if you wanted a dual-band HT, you were going to spend $300 or more. Today, however, anyone can buy a Chinese dual band for under $50.  20 years ago, if you wanted a 220mhz radio, you’d have to pay several hundred dollars. I don’t remember anything about 900mhz back then, the frequency spectrum belonged to us, but to my recollection there were little to no radios at all.

Today, you can buy a mono-band 1.25 meter radio from Anytone or TYT for under $200. Also, there are many 900mhz radios on the market, most of which are used, but many are obtainable for $100 or less. A good example of this would be the Kenwood TK-981 radio. I constantly see these radios sell used on eBay for $100-$125.

So the question is, why are these two bands forgotten? Today you can get a radio in either of these bands for a decent amount of money, and some people are using them, but they are not nearly as popular as the 2M and 40 bands in amateur radio.  The 1.25 meter band is widely unused in the DFW area, and the band itself, being VHF, could be as reliable as 2 meters.  The 900mhz band is becoming more popular in DFW, but radios are mostly purchased from used markets and surplus of businesses of local government agencies.

However, I see that changing very soon.  There is now a 220MHz net that is held on the Ft Worth 220 repeater every Friday night at 7pm.  Additionally, the Denton club is putting up a new 220 repeater soon, along with the Johnson County Club in Mansfield adding a new 220 repeater also.  There have been 3-5 new 900MHz repeaters appear in DFW recently, the newest one being the Ft Worth 927.2625MHz machine that came on the air just this week.

So go out there and see what you can find, then join us on the VERY workable, but less popular, bands.  I still have my 2m/440 radio also, in fact I currently have ALL VHF/UHF bands in my truck, except 1.2GHz.