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Author Topic: So tell me about the 6 meter band  (Read 12225 times)
KB3YLQ
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Posts: 57




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« on: April 24, 2012, 06:33:17 PM »

As a new Technician, I'm trying to take in all I can, so I'd like to learn about the "magic band." I'll be looking for my first multiband rig soon, so am learning about 6 and 10.  6 sounds like a lot of fun because from what I've read, it can go from dead to wide open in minutes, and vice-versa?

Sounds like a fun band with the right equipment!

73,

Loren KB3YLQ
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KE4YOG
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Posts: 182




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« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2012, 07:15:15 PM »

I have a modest 6 meter setup. I have a Kenwood ts480HX and a 3 element beam. Today and last night were great examples of what I know about 6. Yesterday I hear a station on ssb that was just above the noise all I could get was K?4. All I know is he was to the south I think. Aurora was open for stations to the North. Then we have today. Sporadic E was open in many different directions. I worked KP4EIT in Puerto Rico of the back of the beam. He was 59 and I got a 56 report. I heard El Salvador, Brazil, Argentina, Martinique and a couple of more but I could not work them. I had to leave and couldnt get more done. Now tomorrow 6 could be dead. Completely dead. It is very fun when it is open and when it is not then find something else to work.
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KB3YLQ
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« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2012, 07:23:40 PM »

Wow, that Kenwood looks like a really nice radio. I have a feeling it's a little out of my budget for now, but once can always hope. Smiley

I did come across this: http://www.mfjenterprises.com/Product.php?productid=MFJ-9406, which looks like a nice, inexpensive single band QRP rig.
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KB1GMX
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Posts: 832




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« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2012, 04:03:08 PM »

Wow, that Kenwood looks like a really nice radio. I have a feeling it's a little out of my budget for now, but once can always hope. Smiley

I did come across this: http://www.mfjenterprises.com/Product.php?productid=MFJ-9406, which looks like a nice, inexpensive single band QRP rig.

Not a great radio for a beginner.  Good if you want to be portable for mountain topping
as its light on power required (small battery) making it appealing for the backpack.

A better choice would be an RCI-5054DX-100 (ranger communications). Still only
ok but 100W and 6M only but new under 400$.

The FT817 (HF, 6M, 2M and 70cm all modes) is better and more capable
for the same or similar power.  Much cheaper than the FT450.  Also the FT857 is
a possible choice as well, basically a 817 on steroids.  The FT817 has been around
a long time so a used one is possible.

There an wide variety of HF+6M radios used that may fit the bill.

With a few watts and a really good antenna with a big opening you will be heard. That said
you want at least 20W, and a 3 element beam at least higher than the house or 20ft
whichever is higher.  However with 100W you will be more likely to be heard.


Allison

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KC8QVO
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Posts: 62




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« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2012, 08:30:36 PM »

6 is one of my favorite bands. I've worked Eskip, Tropo, Aurora, and Meteor Scatter. Aurora and Meteor Scatter are the coolest propagation modes of the ones I've worked. Meteor Scatter takes the right conditions and the right scheduling, in most cases, to get through, though there are possibilities to work stations on a calling frequency, of sorts. Aurora is rare (in my book) - I've only worked it once. I am hoping this summer I can work some more Aurora. We'll see.

I have 3 radios that run 6 meters. My first one was a Ranger RCI-5054DX (10w version). I would not recommend it. It is a harder radio to operate, and is only marginal in quality. It will make contacts though. My main VHF radio for years has been my trusty Kenwood TS-2000. I bought it for all modes on VHF and to that point it works well. I also have a Yaesu FT-857D. This radio's home is in my truck for mobile operation, but it is also my go-to portable radio. It works as well as the Kenwood TS-2000 on 6 meters. The only differing factor between the two is I run a Heil Goldline GM-4 mic on the HC-4 element and with the compressor running on the Kenwood it makes a heck of a punch for 100 watts.

At home I run a ground plane antenna in the attic for 6m (thats right - vertically polarized inside). When I am at my place in Canada (look me up on QRZ for more info) I run a 5 element beam. The beam does make a big difference, but that having been said when the band opens up my ground plane in the attic nets me quite a few contacts. A dipole also will work. I set up a dipole as my "get-on-the-air-quick" antenna when I get to my place in Canada. That way while I am putting the rest of the station together I have something to work with. Lots of times I don't get to the main set up until the day after I get there, so the dipole gets me going - and is also the very last thing I pack up at the end (and I hate that part...).

Get on 6 meters - SSB, not FM - and see what its all about! Maybe even brush up on your CW skills and work some grids!

Steve, KC8QVO
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G4AON
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Posts: 545




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« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2012, 12:19:24 AM »

6m is a fascinating band, it opens up with sporadic E in the northern hemisphere between May and July, although there were some good openings in late April. So you need to be getting set up now.

I used to use an FT857D but when I got a 6m linear I found it had lousy ALC and suffered from overshoot when set to less than 100W for the linear. It is also not the best for CW (internal keyer poor, needs external one for decent CW operation). Currently I use a Kenwood TS-480SAT on 6m "car portable" with a 25 ft mast and 4 element quad.

While QRP to a compromise antenna will work after a fashion when the band is wide open, I would suggest at least 100W to a 4 or 5 element yagi or 4 element quad. Dimensions are small enough that you can make your own antenna easily, especially for temporary use. There are construction details for a 4 element quad with wooden spreaders and wooden boom on my web site (www.astromag.co.uk/quad).

In order to see what is happening on a map, try the free program "Live MUF" by G7RAU. It is a bit tricky to set up but works well on Windows XP or Windows 7 (inc 64 bit). The program displays a world map with coloured lines between stations spotted on the DX Cluster network, you can set it to auto save the screen to review when you are not home to see it in real time. The data requirements are minimal and it can work via packet radio to the cluster or via a dongle on a laptop when out portable. www.g7rau.co.uk

73 Dave

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KN2RC
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« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2012, 05:22:32 PM »

I would suggest at least 100W to a 4 or 5 element yagi or 4 element quad

no offense intended, 'aon, but i don't know why a gain antenna is recommended as a neccessity for 6m 'skip'.   i've used the rci5054dx100, ic551d, ic706mk2g & currently an ic746pro on 6m.  none are especially spectacular vhf radios, though more then capable.  70 or 80 watts is pretty much max, & i've used as little as 10. 
while i have home built a couple moxons, a 2 & 3 element quad (from backyard bamboo & stripped center from old 9086 coax) & used a 3 element mfj, 90% of the time i use a pair of ku4ab squalos, stacked, a mere 25' to the center.  in fact, i used a single squalo for almost 2 years.  i guess i've contacted nearly 95% of the stations i've heard. don't get me wrong, the gain antennas heard better & more than either squalo install, & some of the locals using cubex & m2 'bigger guns' talk to stations i just can't hear, i would NEVER let the fact i don't have a yagi or quad dissuade me from having a ball on 6m!  when i put the 1st squalo up, i looked at this small 30 square inch antenna & said to myself, yeah right.  turned on the radio, had S9 signals from 700+ miles away, found 1 in michigan calling cq, i called back & he responded with 10 over 9.  HOOKED on 6 meters.  a half dozen guys 500 miles away replying to my cq on 6m is as exciting to me as my 10m mobile contact to t32c was!
so kb3ylq, WHATEVER radio you come up with that has 6m on it, make sure you get a horizontal ANYTHING, (www.ku4ab.com for starters...) and i GUARANTEE  you'll make contacts & have fun!!
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W0FM
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Posts: 2057




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« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2012, 02:07:38 PM »

Beg, borrow or steal a copy of WB2AMU's book "Six Meters: A Guide To The Magic Band": 

http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/2591

I was introduced to 6 Meter AM in 1962.  I still enjoy the band to this day, mostly SSB and CW.  You don't need much to work a lot of stations when the band is active.  The QSO's are usually brief, although longer than the typical contest exchange (ur 5 and 9, TU).  Be prepared to offer your Grid Square identifier, as collecting them is a popular 6 Meter side line.

It's a very comfortable band on which to take a break from much of the push and shove on the HF bands today. The operators all seem to respect the nature of the band and the atmosphere is typically lighthearted and polite. 

73,

Terry, WØFM
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G7MRV
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« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2012, 12:28:22 AM »

Loren, Im not going to give you lots of technical info, nor vast experience, just a report from real life -

Yesterday, i'd been working on 17m as GQ7MRV. At 16:00, I decided, in one of those sudden inspiration moments, that I didnt want my 6m 3el beam (which is at 15ft and shielded by the house to the north, mounted above an outhouse) pointed SW. So, i checked DX Sherlocks 6m map, and the band was dead. I went out, manually turned the beam (no rotor on it) to point 120degrees (SSE) towards central europe and africa.

When i checked the website again at 18:10, there were some european stations working sporadic E, i selected 6m on my Alinco DX-70TH (a rather basic radio but a good performer, HF+6m) and had a tune.

I spent the next hour working central EU stations like they were shouting over the garden fence! Best DX was Greece, KM46 square, some 1,780miles, running 100w to a low 3el beam, a QSO that was as good as being on the telephone to him!

I then had to stop to bathe my kids, when i checked again at 19:21, the only station i could hear was in Hungary, but still 59++. Worked him, and then the band was once more dead to me.

The band could well be dead all day today, or may open for a few minutes, half an hour, a couple of hours, who knows. But when it opened yesterday, well, these stations could have been in my town on 2m FM!

Dont expect to work on 6m all the time, but keep an eye on it. I'd recommend the DX-70TH, as they are basic but good, and come up 2nd hand cheap. Make a dipole for 6m to get started, if the band opens its all you'll need to at least experience it.

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AI4WC
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« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2012, 07:58:11 AM »

Buy yourself a Yaesu FT-897.  It's all band, all mode and you can learn about 6 meters AND be ready for your upgrade to General.  That's what I did and I learned how the "magic" band is dead one day and you can work the world the next.  You can have a modest antenna, up a modest height and talk great distances.  The FT-897 is truly portable and very capable.  The sun is at it's best now; jump in and be ready for your transition to the HF bands!
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KB1GMX
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« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2012, 03:14:39 PM »

Couple of comments.

If you only want to make Es contact when its at peak then any old radio and any crappy antenna will likely do.  For many (me) it was a way to sample the band but it was
limiting.

However if your spending money on a radio, get a good one as the cheap out (unless good used) ends up being a radio that is hard to use, has less performance, and goes
unused quickly.

I did my first 12 countries during the 2001 peak with QRP (4W ssb) and a 2 element
beam.  I could even be heard 90+ miles away if people had good stations with
big beams. 

I moved up to a 3element beam with that same homebrew radio and found I heard
a lot more as it had more gain and was also 10ft higher (25ft).  It's all about the
antenna.

I currently run 60W from the mobile with a KU4AB square loop and when Es is
there I work to where ever it's open.  I also listen to a lot of hiss and not much
else but, I will admit to be a hard core 6M op.

However..
Once the peak Es passes (or before) a station running 100w and at least 3 element
beam will provide more contacts to the horizon (100+miles) and maybe further on a consistent basis and allow operations when Es is weak or troposcatter, and other
weaker signal events. A better signal means local nets and more opportunities to
work a larger area.  The key on 6 has been antenna gain both more elements
and height as that enables the first possible step hearing them.

The home station is a 4 element beam, low loss coax, 200W amp on the Tentec 6n2.
I've already worked a load of stations this last few weeks as the Es season ramps up.
We have even had a good Aurora.  The weak signals I hear on the base I do not
hear in the mobile at all in the driveway.  Its  ku4ab at 7ft vs a 4element beam
at 34ft and the beam always wins.  The tower (30ft Rohn 25) also has a square
loop on it for local nets and stuff that is uncopyable whispers on that  jump out
on the beam. 

Whatever beam you choose (Yagi, Quad, MOXON, Hexbeam) more gain is better
and generally that means more elements and larger.


Allison
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K0CBA
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Posts: 304




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« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2012, 07:41:31 AM »

Be prepared to offer your Grid Square identifier, as collecting them is a popular 6 Meter side line.

73,

Terry, WØFM

Terry, are you kidding? Side line!?   It has become the sole reason for life on 6. 

Loren, be prepared for many intriguing and informative QSOs of  "gim'me ur grid square and get off my frequency". Hell's-bells, you will be lucky to get a name much less a real location that you don't need a decoder sheet as to guess what city and state he may be in or near.

Local round table rag chews were the norm years ago....if/when the band would open we would scatter and work what we wanted/needed; mainly for WAS back then.... AND by the way, we had to contend with TVI and ITV anywhere there was a TV Ch. 2.

Its just a shame to see such a neat band fall victim to what is in all reality just another moronic and never ending contest.

Be it right, wrong or indifferent, that's my opinion which has no virtue nor socially redeeming value.

Bob 
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K0OD
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Posts: 2591




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« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2012, 09:21:01 PM »

Quote
[Grid Squares} Side line!?   It has become the sole reason for life on 6.  

Loren, be prepared for many intriguing and informative QSOs of  "gim'me ur grid square and get off my frequency". Hell's-bells, you will be lucky to get a name much less a real location that you don't need a decoder sheet as to guess what city and state he may be in or near.

Sums it up perfectly. I worked 42 states and 10 countries on 6 three years ago and haven't been back since. Toward the end I stopped giving out my grid square. I'd tell big guns a few hundred miles away that I was in St Louis (about the most populous city in the Zero district) and they'd still demand my stinkin' grid square. And yes, prying a real QTH --city or state-- from some of them was nearly impossible.

I was new to the band and using a tiny 2-element yagi on the patio. I wanted to learn about antennas, propagation and such.

Final straw was the big gun old timer in Dallas (virtually down the road from me) with an antenna stack who repeatedly demanded my grid square I guess in order to make the Q "official" somehow in his mind. Or maybe there's an award for 1000 contacts in EM-48.

Yes, local rag chews --huge ones-- were once the norm... kids using stuff like $39 Heath lunch boxes they made themselves. I loaded up the family TV antenna. The band was once fun.
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AD4U
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« Reply #13 on: November 05, 2012, 07:33:57 AM »

6 meters during poor sunspot conditions as now = hours and hours and hours and hours of static punctuated by a few minutes of crazy and interesting band openings.

On the other hand in the late 1950's and late 1960's, 6 meters was open to somewhere almost all of the time.

Those were the days.

Dick  AD4U
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W5DQ
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« Reply #14 on: November 16, 2012, 08:55:34 AM »

As a new Technician, I'm trying to take in all I can, so I'd like to learn about the "magic band." I'll be looking for my first multiband rig soon, so am learning about 6 and 10.  6 sounds like a lot of fun because from what I've read, it can go from dead to wide open in minutes, and vice-versa?

Sounds like a fun band with the right equipment!

73,

Loren KB3YLQ

Loren,

Havng been on 6M for quite a while out here in DM-15 Kern, County, Ridgecrest, CA, here is a couple of key points I have found hold true every year for 6M operations:

You'll get tired of listening to static before you get tired of operating on 6M. From my QTH, I only have a few big opening periods a year but from mid April, 6M starts to build with sporadic E propagation and is USUALLY strong through July and starts to taper off until it is very spotty from mid Sept till the following April. We sometimes have a small window of activity in Dec/Jan timeframe but it is short lived and not near as large as the summer openings. While you will be able to work stations with a dipole from your PA QTH, I would strongly suggest that you investigate installing a rotatable beam antenna in the 3 to 5 element class. Larger is better to an extent - long boom yagis tend to have a sharp lobe and are limited off the sides and rear so you'll miss stuff if you don't augment a long boom yagi with a omni-directional loop or something comparable.

I developed a PowerPoint Slideshow for our local club a couple of years ago covering 6M to introduce our new hams to 'the Magic Band'. I have posted a copy of it on my website if you'd like to download it. It is a general information and has links to other websites so it might be of interest to yu and others. I am by no means an expert on 6M but I have developed an understanding of how to work 6M successfully and have over 400 grids confirmed with only 7 DX so far but I keep trying.

The "INTRODUCTION TO 6 METERS" slideshow is at ........................ "http://www.radioroom.org/w5dq/w5dq-6.html" ................. being the 5th items down the list.

Good Luck and I hope to hear you on 6M this next Es season.

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