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Author Topic: Sporadic-E, TEP, AND Aurora 6m opening...I still can't hear squat!  (Read 4072 times)
KB1TXK
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« on: April 23, 2012, 06:02:32 PM »

Beacon on 50.061 lets see if it gets heard.

Should I be vertical or horizontal (I'm horiz at the moment)? By that I mean...whats the typical casual 6m ham use...verts or dipoles/beams?

I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong.  Setup:

FT-897D
cruising 50.110 - 50.125 USB
6m dipole (dual trimmed-down 102" whips) at 25', aimed SW/NE
1.5:1 R=32 X=5 @ 50.125 (I'm working on that)


The current map...maybe it will help express my frustration:
http://kb1txk.com/hereiam.png
« Last Edit: April 24, 2012, 09:55:02 AM by KB1TXK » Logged

K7MH
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Posts: 339




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« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2012, 12:03:15 AM »

A 5 element beam is the average or probably the most common 6 meter antenna for cw and ssb. 3 elements IMO, is a bare minimum. A dipole at most any height isn't much of an antenna for 6 meters. I used to do quite well with 7 elements on a 20 ft. boom at 35ft and 10 watts in a rather lousy location. With 3 elements and 2 watts it was pretty sad and hopeless. Now I have a 2 element quad at 45ft in a good location but don't spend much time on 6 anymore. I did finish off WAS on 6 though. Some of the openings are not going to give you a lot of signal strength to work with so beams are the only way to go. A 6 meter beam is pretty small, and easy to build...so get to it!
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K3GM
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« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2012, 05:11:02 AM »

For SSB, you need to listen from 50.110 to perhaps 50.225.  When the band is open, the activity can be spread out that wide.  From my QTH in Massachusetts, I've worked many "50 watt, dipole stations" in the mid-west and the deep south during openings using my 4 element yagi and modest station.  So if that's all you currently have, you can be heard if the other station is doing the heavy lifting.  What I'm not understanding is your antenna's elevation.  You state 205'.  Is that your location above sea level?  What is the antenna height above ground?

With your current setup, you need to concentrate on sporadic e openings.  Your current station is not capable of working 6m aurora.  The good news is we're getting into Es season, so your chances of making some distant contacts should be pretty good.  You have to listen or continuously scan a piece of the band listening for an opening.  6m requires patience.  Much like fishing, you can go days without catching a thing.



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WB2WIK
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« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2012, 09:05:31 AM »

For SSB, you need to listen from 50.110 to perhaps 50.225.

I'd listen a lot lower than that.  When I'm not actually using my 6m rig, it is set to receive and continuously scan the beacon band from 50.001 to 50.099.  If uninterrupted by actual signals received, it scans this section once every ten seconds, which is a fairly slow scan.  If it hears a signal, it stops on that for ten seconds before it resumes scanning.

This way, I know if the band's open whether any stations (other than the beacons) are really using it or not.  Note there are also beacons above 50.200 in other parts of the world (not here), such as Australia and Japan and when the bands really open, I occasionally hear some of those.

I think scanning for beacons is more productive than just tuning around or letting the dial sit on 50.125 or whatever.  The beacons are there 24/7 and if the band pops open to anywhere, even for just a minute, you'll know.
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WB8VLC
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« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2012, 09:42:58 AM »

You don't need a big 5 element beam to make contacts but you should be using horizontal polarization.

I used a 2 element phased 6 meter beam compared in parallel with a 5 el M2 yagi and had fun last night, everything on the M2 was readable on the 2el phased array and only down 1 s unit or less.

Signals were all across the band from a VE8 beacon in Yellowknife on 50.020 up to 50.200MHz both SSB and CW stations. 

SSB was extremely distorted due to Aurora as was CW but i was able to make several SSB and CW contacts.

The main thing is to tune around slowly and listen and use whatever you have and have fun.
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KB1TXK
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« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2012, 09:59:31 AM »

Ouch no not 205' haha (I wish).  25'...oops. 25' above ground, 800ft above sea level.

And I should have also mentioned I always dip into the beacon range and never hear anything.  

So I'm going to try aiming it E/W instead of SW/NE and see if that helps.  I've been SLOWLY working on putting together a 6m moxon so I'll just TRY and be patient until I have that up, use the dipole until then.

I've heard one guy once, VERY faint...I can't remember for sure which way it went but one of us could hear the other but not the other way around...so at least I know my radio works on 6m haha.

It also doesn't help that openings always manage to show up when I'm at work.  Go figure.  I'm off work tomorrow...I'll do some more playing then.
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K3GM
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« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2012, 11:04:48 AM »

I have a little PAR 6m stressed moxon that I use with a 20'collapsable mast and a drive on base.  I'll throw these in the back of my Tahoe and go out and do some basic rovering if I'm away from the shack as I often end up being for the Spring VHF QSO Party.  Using an IC-7000, I've made many Es contacts with this basic setup.


Couple of ideas:
The little 3 element Cushcraft 6m yagi is a nice antenna, and is not much larger than a TV LPDA.  I used one of these for several years.
Here's a couple of home brew ideas:
http://www.afn.org/~scotsman/hamradio.6meter.portable.yagi.html
or you could build something like a Ken Neubeck, WB2AMU 3 element, "Broomstick Yagi".  Insulated elements, direct fed.
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2012, 04:02:27 PM »

Ouch no not 205' haha (I wish).  25'...oops. 25' above ground, 800ft above sea level.

And I should have also mentioned I always dip into the beacon range and never hear anything.  

So I'm going to try aiming it E/W instead of SW/NE and see if that helps.  I've been SLOWLY working on putting together a 6m moxon so I'll just TRY and be patient until I have that up, use the dipole until then.

I've heard one guy once, VERY faint...I can't remember for sure which way it went but one of us could hear the other but not the other way around...so at least I know my radio works on 6m haha.

I suspect your beam isn't working well.  WA1OJB on 50.065 is meter-pinning extremely strong up on Cadillac Mountain (I've operated from there several times), to the south of you and maybe double the elevation.  Up there you can also hear VE1SMU on 50.001 and VE9BEA on 50.024 all the time, S9++ signals.  Last time I was there I could hear the W3CCX beacon outside of Philadelphia just fine -- of course Cadillac Mtn is a pretty good spot, right on the water.  Inland the propagation drops off, but if you're up 800 feet with any sort of beam you should be hearing stuff.

What I'm discussing has nothing to do with "openings," it's just there 24/7 via tropo, not E-skip or any kind of ionospheric propagation.
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KB1GMX
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« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2012, 03:47:45 PM »

Ouch no not 205' haha (I wish).  25'...oops. 25' above ground, 800ft above sea level.

And I should have also mentioned I always dip into the beacon range and never hear anything.>
  
Good practice.

However the DX has not always hit this region.  And the cluster may be reporting some
of the big guns that have way more antenna then you.  Also those guys may be using
CW at the bottom of the band (listening there too?)

If you not hearing K1TOL and K1WHS your still missing something I hear them in my mobile down here in MA.

FYI the antenna here is only 35ft up and the land is about 200Ft above sea level.
In my case 35ft gets me over all the houses and low clutter.


>So I'm going to try aiming it E/W instead of SW/NE and see if that helps.  I've been SLOWLY working on putting together a 6m moxon so I'll just TRY and be patient until I have that up, use the dipole until then.


With a dipole your usable window is nearly 70degrees wide!  However there is no gain
and compared to most casual stations (typically 3element horizontal beam at 20-40ft)
your way down the receive curve.  The difference is about 1 S-unit less than a 3-4 element beam.  Also I looked at the map you captured and most of those guys I know are medium
to big guns, look at K1TOLs picture on QRZ to appreciate what I mean.

Your measured match of "1.5:1 R=32 X=5 @ 50.125 (I'm working on that)" is adequate
 enough and not an issue.  Also if your measuring at the end of any length of cable its
not indicating what the actual match at the antenna is.  When I tune up a new antenna
I get it high enough (for 6M beams a few feet) and aim it toward the sky so I only need
less than 10 feet or less of RG213 or other low loss cable.

A moxon is about the gain of a 2 element beam.  You will not hear the weaker stuff.
If you want to get results 6M proves the rule, bigger antenna means bigger signal.
A moxon is a handy antenna and works in high activity areas or with big openings
but for all intents its a small antenna.  It will be an improvement over the dipole
but compared to a short 6ft boom 3 element like a Cushcraft A503, no contest.

>I've heard one guy once, VERY faint...I can't remember for sure which way it went but one of us could hear the other but not the other way around...so at least I know my radio works on 6m haha.

Ok, I said this once before but worth repeating, on 6 GAIN is everything.  For openings like these which are fairly weak 3 element beam with rotator is the BAREST MINIMUM.  The
big opening you can use a wet noodle but for Aurora and weak Es you need gain and
height if possible.

My mobile is a homebrew 60w radio (very hot receiver) and a square loop at 8ft above
the ground and I have not heard anything but the house there is a four element beam
at 35ft, it has heard some weak stuff.  To repeat height and gain.

If your using RG58 thats not a help either.  With a dipole you do not have DBs
to give up to cable loss.

Also make sure the RF gain is at maximum and if the radio has one the receive preamp is ON.


>It also doesn't help that openings always manage to show up when I'm at work.  Go figure.  I'm off work tomorrow...I'll do some more playing then.

Always works that way.  However Sunday night was Aurora and open in the evening.

I've worked Aurora with a 3 element beam and 20W but the radio had a good RX.
However, looking at the map today it never opened in this (New England) region or
if it did it was very brief.  We are only a the beginning of the Es season and it may
not peak for a month or more.

FYI: I have a square loop at 20ft for local work (nets), 6M vertical wire PAR EF-6 for
FM work, and the four element at 35ft.  The Aurora I worked on Sunday night was
weak, on the square loop it was so weak as to be unheard save for hints of something
going on. The vertical heard nothing!


Allison
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N6ORB
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Posts: 243




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« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2012, 08:27:47 AM »

It really is possible to work a lot of people on six meters with only modest gear. For example, I live in an HOA, so only temporary antennas here. I use the same setup for roving as I use at home, so that should give you some idea of my hardware limitations.

I currently have 368 grid squares and 47 states confirmed, all worked in the past six years from my QTH near San Francisco using SSB. DX confirmed includes Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, New Caledonia and Alaska. Most of these were worked with a Moxon antenna at about 13 feet. I can now get the antenna up to 20 feet, so I figure I should start working JAs on SSB this summer. :-)

The point is that you can have a lot of fun on six meters with a very modest setup. However, it's clear that your number of QSOs out of the local area in a given amount of time will be directly proportional to the amount of aluminum you have in the air at a decent height.

If you don't know when to listen for activity, you'll likely get frustrated and give up on six. The key for me is to watch DX-Sherlock:
http://www.vhfdx.info/spots/map.php?Lan=E&Frec=50&Map=NA

Bookmark it and refer to it often. If you see the map lit up with red lines connecting QSO spots reaching into your area, get on the radio and listen. Click on the map to get a list of the mapped QSOs and see what frequencies they were on. Activity usually starts on 50.125 with additional frequencies becoming active up the band as an opening develops. I think the highest ssb frequency I've heard in a VHF contest with a major opening was 50.220.

It seems that the summer sporadic E season has just begun and should peak around the middle of June. By mid-August, it will all be over.

Good luck with your efforts on six meters. They should start paying off soon.

Dave
N6ORB


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AD1DX
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Posts: 44




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« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2012, 04:26:06 AM »

Don't feel too bad-I live in MA near the RI border.I haven't heard anything this year yet.I have a 4 el beam up about 40 feet -265 ft above sea level.I have been able to work into Europe the last two summers.Be patient-the openings will be occuring soon!
73 de AD1DX
Ceasar
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G4AON
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Posts: 542




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« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2012, 05:03:23 AM »

An additional aid to seeing what is happening on 6m is to download the free program "Live MUF" by G7RAU (http://www.g7rau.demon.co.uk/). The program displays spots via a cluster, it's a bit tricky to set up but works really well (I have it running on an XP laptop and my Win7 64 bit home PC). It's a "lean" application suitable for use with mobile data via a dongle or even via packet radio. You can also set the program to automatically save screen shots every half hour or so, to see what has been happening while you are at work.

When there is sporadic E, you see stations working each other via lines that cross the point where the E cloud is located... That is where you need to point your antenna. The band openings with Sporadic E are very localised, often hearing just one distant beacon and nothing else at all.

The 6m band is starting to open up in the northern hemisphere and is usually good from early May through to the end of July.

I have had good success with a wire Moxon and also with home made quads. My portable 4 element quad is easy to make and is now several years old without needing any repair work...

www.astromag.co.uk/quad/

73 Dave
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G0GQK
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« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2012, 01:28:26 PM »

The reason is, there is nothing to be heard, yet ! Put this into your Favourites and make a check every day
http://amunters.home.xs4all.nl/

Mel G0GQK
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N6AJR
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« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2012, 02:13:43 PM »

Band has been quiet, get on and call CQ  a couple of times a day, see if you can stir it up.
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W5DQ
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« Reply #14 on: May 03, 2012, 03:03:24 PM »

A 5 element beam is the average or probably the most common 6 meter antenna for cw and ssb. 3 elements IMO, is a bare minimum. A dipole at most any height isn't much of an antenna for 6 meters. I used to do quite well with 7 elements on a 20 ft. boom at 35ft and 10 watts in a rather lousy location. With 3 elements and 2 watts it was pretty sad and hopeless. Now I have a 2 element quad at 45ft in a good location but don't spend much time on 6 anymore. I did finish off WAS on 6 though. Some of the openings are not going to give you a lot of signal strength to work with so beams are the only way to go. A 6 meter beam is pretty small, and easy to build...so get to it!

Normally I would agree but with Es propagation, you just can't make a blanket statement like that. In 2006 I was in SW Arkansas in EM25 at my folks house for about a month helping them out. I didn't have any 6M antennas so I just threw a dipole up made up of some 3/8" aluminum tubing set on a PVC "T" frame. I had it mounted about 12 foot off the ground and in less than 30 days I worked VUCC and 6 DX countries with 100 watts from the mobile with the coax just run in thru the side of the trunk lid and hooked to the FT-100D in the car. I would have never thought that that little dipole would have done that good of operation. I also worked Field Day that year from atop Rich Mountain just west of Mena, Arkansas on the AR/OK stateline using a similar setup of a KU4AB loop on 16 foot of 1-1/2" PVC pipe guys with dacron cord and hooked to the mobile like the dipole was. Of course I was on top of Rich Mtn at about 3300' in the clear but I managed to work 169 contacts in a little under 6 hours of operating. Final for FD (not counting the rest of June 06) was 23 states, 78 grids, 5 countries and 169 Q's just on 6M alone with the loop and 100W.

So there are just two examples that both defy your statement of "a dipole at most any height isn't much of an antenna for 6 meters". It all depends on propagation.

Gene W5DQ
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Gene W5DQ
Ridgecrest, CA - DM15dp
www.radioroom.org
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