archive_title.jpg (10193 bytes)

home > archive > the history of 6m > down memory lane

The August 1994 issue of Six News
Thanks to all of our authors since 1982!


6m in 1958
by Al Slater G3FXB, Copyright CQ Magazine, December 1958. (Thanks to Herb, W3IWU, for kindly supplying a copy of the following article first printed in December 1958.)


Other than a few very limited openings, late February and March, reception of North American 50 Mc amateur transmissions in Europe finished in mid-February. This more or less followed the pattern of the previous season. This article comprises a review of the six-meter scene on this side of the pond, and of the 1957-58 DX season.

During November and December of 1957 reception of W and VE stations on 50 Mc was an almost daily occurrence here in England. It is fantastic to compare this with the state of affairs four years ago, when 14 Mc was indifferent and a W QSO on 21 Mc quite a rarity! Such is the influence of the sun-spot cycle.

Not being licensed until 1949, and then only using QRP, the writer, G3FXB, barely tasted DX working on 28 Mc during the last cycle, and so, with increasing sun-spot counts and rising MUFs, operation during 1954, 1955 and 1956 was centered on 21 Mc and 28 Mc.

Reading about the F2 openings on 50 Mc that occurred in 1947 prompted interest in that band and in December of 1956 the writer's first cross-band QSO was effected with W1FOS. W1GKE, W1HOY, W8CMS and others followed. The band seemed good in 1956 but pressure of business precluded any serious work and it was disappointing to note the collapse of the band in January, 1957. The last 50 Mc signals actually heard being on January 8th, 1957, when W4s and a Channel 2 video carrier were audible. However, openings commenced again on October 27, 1957 and it was obvious that the winter of 1957/58 was going to see 50 Mc hotter than a fire-cracker.

Getting equipped for listening on 50 Mc in England is no problem. A very nice item of war surplus known as the RF-26 unit is a ready made six-meter converter. It may not have the most wonderful of noise factors but it sells brand new for the equivalent of about four USA dollars. For the record, it tunes from 50 mc to 65 mc and employs the output frequency of 7.5 me. The RF and mixer tubes are somewhat similar to the 6AK5 and the unit uses a separate triode oscillator. In England, 50 Mc is slap bang in our TV, Channel 2 - so, if a fellow is in a Channel 2 area, the domestic receiver antenna can be tuned W-wise and put to good use! This of course providing the QRM from video is not too bad. TV in England is vertically polarized and whilst the writer used the domestic 2-element TV antenna in 1956 it was decided to use a horizontal antenna for 1957 with a view to reducing the video QRM. The local TV Channel 2 station is but four miles away and unfortunately openings on six meters in variably coincide with test patterns which spread a generous 2.5 Mc of video all over the band.

During November 1957 a crude 3-element wire beam was used at G3FXB but tests indicated that the driven element of the G4ZU tri-bander beam was giving one s-unit better saying a lot for the efficiency of the wire beam. The driven element of the G4ZU beam is 24 feet long and at a height of 25 feet is centre fed with 450 ohm open wire line. Time did not permit the erection of anything better and the incentive of transmission in G-land has been largely nonexistent. In early November, 1957, my local collaborator in the world of DX began to show an interest in six meters, Stan G2DPY. In fact, his XYL bought him a RF-26 unit for his birthday present. If ever an XYL regretted a birthday present - this was it! Stan became an ardent six-meter man and being a shift worker was in a position to give the band a fair bit of attention. Acknowledgments are due to Stan for much of the information in this write-up, also to short-wave listener John Whitington of Worthing who also procured an RF-26 unit and promptly started to log the six-meter boys. John used just one leg of a 21 Mc dipole whilst Stan started with a 3-element indoor wire beam and later increased this to a 6-element wire beam similarly situated.

On the whole, the east coast boys were the most co-operative in listening on ten meters but plenty of the lads down south and out west could have made any number of contacts cross-band six to ten meters, had they listened on ten. For our part, a mid-west or west coast QSO was for obvious reasons, of greater interest and to hear fellows such as W5PDE, W7ACD, W7JRG at S9 calling "CQ Six" was a most frustrating experience. One knew that no matter how hard one called, there was not a hope of raising them! There were days when west coast and mid-west signals were the only ones audible on six meters - no east coast at all! When these western gentlemen came in they came in with a bang. The strongest signals I have heard on six has been from stations like W5PDE, W5SFW, W5VY, W7ACD, W7JRG and W9DSP.

Some days the band shut at dusk, other days it did not open until dusk whilst often it stayed open a couple of hours after nightfall. Earliest reception of six meter was recorded at 1215 GMT - W1GKE and the latest at 1800 GMT - W8CMS.

Just before Christmas the GPO (British licensing authority) announced the granting of special limited permits for transmission on 52.5 Mc. Unfortunately in all but a few remote areas, operation was restricted to non TV hours - 0001 - 0930 GMT. With 50 Mc slap in the TV band such restrictions were hardly surprising. It was immediately suggested to the authorities that another normally non-TV period 1300-1400 GMT might be made available as trans-Atlantic contacts seemed completely ruled out during the 0001-0930 period.

Permission was not granted and thus no operation on the 52.5 Mc band was entertained. The return for the effort involved seemed rather negligible. MP4BBL (Bahrain) and ZC41P (Cyprus) might well have provided cross-band QSOs but that seemed about the only possibility in the 0001 0930 period. Incidentally, both these fellows were fully prepared for six to ten cross-band with W and VE but they did not hear any signals. They have both made regular cross-band contacts with VQ2, ZE and ZS via trans-equatorial scatter. When six was open things were hectic and it must not be forgotten that quite often the problem was TV video QRM. Unfortunately the beam bearing for the USA coincided with that for the local TV channel! "CQ Cross Band Six-meters" has been good fun. Let’s hope that by the time this appears in print we shall have enjoyed some fall openings on six meters.

As a follow-on to this article Herb W3IWU has supplied his log and comments relating to openings covering the same time period, 1957/58. In those days Herb was licensed as W5LIU in Lubbock, Texas (DM93 by today's rules). I was very active during the above period, in fact I never forgave Al for not hearing me! I worked a fair share of the DX, and must have called CQ a million times, but I did not appear in his article! I would call your attention to the many reports of W5, 6 and 7. Cycles 21 and 22 certainly did not match up from that standpoint.

Nov. 4th: 1957: 1545 VE1HT on FM, W5VY worked LA7??? on cw. BBC video very loud but gone by 1730.

Nov 5th: 1406 SM7ZN for over 2 hours. I have a QSL card from an SWL SM6-A77 reporting my signals 1620-1639.

Nov 12th: weak BBC audio (41 MHz). Nov 16th: 1800 Good RTTY to NNW (VE8?). 1917 KL7CDG, 1923 KL7AH.

Nov 17th: 1450 BBC Ch2 video. 1533 heard W5VY work a G3 cross-band.

Nov 20th: 1645 BBC Ch2 loud until 1710. 1650 heard a VE1.

Nov 2lst: worked EI2W at 1709. Dec 1st/2nd/3rd: weak BBC video.

Dec 23rd: 1615 cw harmonic 50.160 signing SVA (a ship?).

Dec 29th: 1520 BBC video. 1528 K4MBM calling SM5CHH. 1645 SM6ANR heard.

Jan 1st: 1705 W5VY calling a G cross-band.

Jan 2nd: 1506 CBI de ICSV (ship harmonic). Chile IGY stations 49.96. 1640 G8SA de BFU (ship?).

Jan 3rd: 1505 CE8AE (IGY station Antofagasta). BBC video.

Jan 4th: BBC video. 1604 SM6ANR, 1610 EI2W, 1620 SM6BTT, 1707 W7JRG calling G cross-band.

Jan 5th: 1545 EI2W, also a GM3F?? with chirpy signal, calling W1FOS!!

Jan 6th: 1545 EI2W. BBC video out at 1800.

Jan 7th: BBC fair, EI2W fair signal.

Jan 11th: BBC video 1535. WIQCC/VEI calling SM6BTT.

Jan 13th: BBC very loud. Understand JAs into Nebraska.

I never realised how fragmentary these notes were. But 36 years makes some of the recollections QSB! At the time I was freshly out of the Army, married a little over a year, had a young child, was going to college full time and was working full time. Six Meters was a STRONG magnet though!

Just for the record let me mention that there were several stations (beacons if you will) which were put on air in about 1958 for propagation purposes. CE8AE in Antofagasta, Chile, several KW, large rhombic aimed NW and a pair of Yagis to the East on 49.96MHz. OA3AAE in Arequipa, Peru, high power, rhombic NW on 49.92MHz. OA3AAF in Huancayo, Peru, low power, 49.88MHz. These stations began operating on 15th Nov. 1957 and transmitted continuously with CW IDs on the hour and half hour. There was another station, KK2XFS referred to as Mapleleaf (Canada) on 49.28MHz,

UKSMG Six News issue 41, April 1994


the early history of 6m
down memory lane
6m history
historical 6m rigs
6m history by G6DH
50yrs of 50megs pt1
50yrs of 50megs pt2
50yrs of 50megs pt3
50yrs of 50megs pt4