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6M newbie - nothing heard!

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Stuart, G6IMT

Wed Jun 15 2011, 09:51PM
Hi

Despite the aged call-sign I'm pretty new to HF /6M having returned to the hobby after a circa 27 year break (got married, had kids etc - you know the story!). Anyway after getting a couple of hundred QSOs under my belt (SSB / PSK) on various HF bands I thought I'd take a look at 6M for the first time.

The problem is I'm hearing nothing (apart from a few noises I've yet to identify). I've been scanning the FM frequencies, including all the UK repeaters and tuning around the SSB end of the band but to no avail. So, either something is wrong with my kit or 6M is dead in my area (Colchester, Essex).

I'm using a Yaesu FT817ND (are they deaf on 6M perhaps?) and a off-centre fed dipole for 40M - 6M. I appreciate the antenna may be a bit low-rent but I should hear something surely? I had some significant interference issues but I tracked the culprits down - it was a combination of my network switch and laptop monitor so I have to turn both off when I'm on 6. Not a major issue as I have another PC in the shack on WiFi which doesn't cause any problems.

Next step I guess is to break the ice with some of the locals on 2M (also quiet but not as quiet as 70cm!) and see if I can find someone to test with but I'm really surprised that I'm hearing zilch...I was thinking of investing in a Comet 15 vertical (no room for a beam) but I'd need to be convinced that it would be worthwhile first.

Regards,


Stuart
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Trev, EA5ISZ
Thu Jun 16 2011, 08:04AM
Trev, EA5ISZ

Registered Member #13
Joined: Tue Mar 18 2008, 01:43PM

Posts: 143
Hi Stuart and welcome to 6m.

Well you have probably chosen the right time of year to make your first steps on the band although I'm sorry that you have yet to hear anything meaningful. I don't know how up to speed you are with what to expect to hear and when so please excuse me if you already know all of this.

First, we are in the middle of the summer sporadic E season at the moment which generally will be the best time of year to both hear and work strong signals from Europe. with your set-up it should be possible to hear most of the European signals when they appear and, given a little luck, you should also be able to work most of them. I guess that so far your appearances on the band have co-incided with periods of little or no sporadic E. I would normally expect most days to produce some signals but there will also be periods, perhaps a day or two where the band appears completely flat. Most of the decent propagation is likely to be during daylight hours but, on occasion, the band has been open well into the early hours and rarely all night long. If you aren't able to monitor the band regularly, then having access to one of the dx clusters is a good way to keep abreast of events. There are good versions available for smart phones which can be very useful when away from the shack; just remember to filter for 50MHz signals else you'll suffer from information overload If you have access to a computer, then take a look at Alain, ON4KST's chat website. There you will get up to date info on whts happening and the ability to chat to others if you wish. see here:

Of course, there are plenty of other ways of making contact on 50 other than sporadic E, in fact far too many for me to go into here, so take a look at one or two of the articles on this site which will explain things better than I can in the Forum. This abundance of different types of propagation on 6m is why it has become known as 'the magic band'. You may wish to change to a regular antenna to take advantage of some of these though.

Whatever happens I hope you have some fun Stuart, its a great band to operate on and the occasional stints of listening to white noise are soon forgotten when the band opens.
73 es gl
Trev G3ZYY
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Dai, G8FXM
Thu Jun 16 2011, 12:00PM
Webmaster

Registered Member #2
Joined: Mon Mar 17 2008, 06:10PM

Posts: 204
HI Stuart,
I'd recommend you take a look at the HB9CV, very small antenna which gives good performance during Es openings and can easily be made yourself if you are that way inclined. I used one myself and have worked to the Caribbean on it so it can be done, just need the right conditions. Welcome tot he world of VHF DXing
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Stuart, G6IMT
Thu Jun 16 2011, 02:42PM
Stuart, G6IMT
Registered Member #1578
Joined: Wed Jun 15 2011, 09:01PM

Posts: 6
Hi Trev / Dai

Thanks for the replies and info. I've registered on ON4KST's chat website and I'm having a play now - one to bookmark and keep an eye on. I'm quite happy making antennas - something I used to enjoy more than the actual QSOs when I fist started in the hobby - Heath Robinson has nothing on me when it comes to antennas . The HB9CV looks interesting but I've also been looking at the Hentenna - a design which is certainly new to me! This morning I found a supplier of antenna parts just down the road from me http://www.aerial-parts.co.uk/shop/page/1?shop_param= which is handy, so I reckon I'll be paying him a visit sometime soon!

One other newbie question - I guess SSB is more active than FM on 6?

73

Stuart


[ Edited Thu Jun 16 2011, 02:43PM ]
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Trev, EA5ISZ
Thu Jun 16 2011, 03:09PM
Trev, EA5ISZ

Registered Member #13
Joined: Tue Mar 18 2008, 01:43PM

Posts: 143
I meant to comment on that earlier Stuart. Yes, it really depends on where you are located in the UK as to whether there is much if any activity on FM. Generally, if you are near one of the repeaters there will likely be FM simplex operation also. Around these parts (Cornwall) I have yet to hear anyone on FM! Most is SSB/CW with increasing amounts of data comms (google JT6M for more info) The data guys are doing some good stuff and you might find it interesting even with your current set-up. Most SSB activity is between 50.105 and 50.2 with occasional forays well above this especially when the band is open. 50.110 is the DX calling frequency and is a useful place to 'park' your rx when pottering around the shack doing other things. I'd avoid calling there yourself for the time being though, if you would like to call CQ then try around 50.130 to 50.170. The DX portion of the band is 50.000 to 50.130 with beacons and CW taking up the first 100kHz or so.

If you need further info, take a look here: I wrote this some time ago but it still holds true in the important aspects. Note to self, ought to update it. Also have a read of this article, its all good stuff: , once you have decided you like the band, take a look here:
Good Luck, Trev
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Trev, EA5ISZ
Thu Jun 16 2011, 03:13PM
Trev, EA5ISZ

Registered Member #13
Joined: Tue Mar 18 2008, 01:43PM

Posts: 143
Just noticed the first two links above don't go far enough. They should point to 'Beginners Guide to 6m' and 'Working pileups' respectively. The third link works OK.
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Stuart, G6IMT
Thu Jun 16 2011, 07:56PM
Stuart, G6IMT
Registered Member #1578
Joined: Wed Jun 15 2011, 09:01PM

Posts: 6
Wa'hey...at last...EC1AJL (IN73CI) 5-8 to 5-9 +20 on 50.140 (18:35 and still going strong as I post this). My 5 watts is not making it but he's worked a lot of UK and LA stations so far...

So, looks like my kit does work on 6 after all , just wish I had a bit more power - buying that FT450D might just be a bit closer now . A better antenna would also help of course!

Magic!


73


Stuart
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Per, LA7DFA
Fri Jun 17 2011, 02:57PM
Per, LA7DFA
Registered Member #189
Joined: Sun Apr 06 2008, 04:05PM

Posts: 44
There are live DX maps helping to discover condx.



Sporadic-E is a common scattering point, and you will often hear "DX" when the ES cloud is 500-1000km away from your location..
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Stuart, G6IMT
Fri Jun 17 2011, 07:51PM
Stuart, G6IMT
Registered Member #1578
Joined: Wed Jun 15 2011, 09:01PM

Posts: 6
Thanks Per, that's a new site for me - another one to bookmark!
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Stuart, G6IMT
Thu Jun 23 2011, 08:24PM
Stuart, G6IMT
Registered Member #1578
Joined: Wed Jun 15 2011, 09:01PM

Posts: 6
At last! - my first QSO on 6M.

just 1.5W of PSK31 to EA1GE in IN51NW this morning. Nothing special perhaps but I allowed myself to get a little bit excited
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