With a Little Help from my Friends
Steve Gregory, VK3OT
Issue 57, May 1998

Steve, VK3OTAll achievements, whether they be distance covered in a certain time, a height that has been jumped, a distance leapt or laps swum at an Olympic Pool, all are a measure of some form of ability and capability. When it comes to radio benchmarks we have the criteria of DXCC, Five Band Awards, Worked All Zones and other operating achievement awards.

Using the 20 metre amateur band as a benchmark, as we move out sideways it just gets harder, no matter how the achievements are measured. To get results below and above 20 metres your station and operating capabilities need to be improved. This is reflected in the large number of awards issued for 20 and the lesser number issued for most other bands.

So when it comes to six metres, the questions to be answered are: how is performance and achievement measured, and are the results equitable?

What about 50 MHz DXCC? There are over 200 of these prestigious and highly sought after awards. Ever since the Fishs’ got numbers 1 and 2, the 50MHz DXCC has been most operators’ dream and the six metre benchmark, surpassed possibly only by the grid fields standings.

As an indication to the achievement of working DXCC on 50 MHz, I think that, prior to 1978, if I am not mistaken, there were less than this number of 10 metre DXCCs issued. It really wasn’t until 5BDXCC got into full swing that expeditions considered activating all HF bands. Now with six metre DXCC you often see expeditions dedicated exclusively to operations on the ‘magic band’, using HF purely for six metre liaison on 28.885.

The decision to conduct a 6m only expedition is a mark of dedication, given the high cost of mounting a radio operation from distant lands. It is often said that HF operations recoup some of losses, but it is highly unlikely that a six metre operation would be that lucky. The QSO score alone would be a fraction of that achieved by a fully-manned HF operation, in my experience.

Less than 10 percent of the 1980/82 VK9XT contacts occurred on Six. There are reasons for this including the vagaries of propagation, which under certain circumstances would see radio blackouts for several days at a time. The hapless operator would find little joy and results for the effort of carting several hundred pounds of equipment to some far flung atoll. Examples of the dedication shown in the pursuit of the six metre happiness are demonstrated by the efforts of Jimmy W6JKV and Joel N6AMG (SK).

Joel, in particular always amazed me, when he turned up at some remote location with a pocket-sized nine element 40 foot long M2 yagi somehow squeezed into a ski-bag, or the water-cooled kilowatt amplifier complete with plastic bucket and a fish tank water pump. And how about Jimmy with his EME from places so remote that they aren’t marked on any map?

And Mike Stahl, who put the amplifier out in the snow to keep it cool at McMurdo sound in 1993? One week after Mike left KC4 with no six metre QSOs, we had 59 propagation into VK0IX Casey Antarctica and 50 QSOs were made.

Fifty QSOs! You mean that Casey Base has been permanently manned by a six metre operator since January 1991 and there have been fifty QSOs? Well let me inform you that for all time up to and including November 1991 there had been only three QSOs.

During 1990, despite days of observations and calling CQ between 0700z and 1200z, I made only one contact into Europe for that whole year. And that was with someone who I had already worked before, to a country that I had confirmed.

So as I said at the start, what are achievements based upon? The degree of difficulty, the distance the stations are apart, or the absolute dedication and single minded perseverance of operators like for example K5FF, W5FF, K6MYC, N6AMG and W6JKV? And not to forget Joel, KG6DX who worked all the states on Six and DXCC to boot. So what, you might say? Well he did it from Guam Island, were the USA day begins. Just doing WAS from the US continent is sufficient achievement in itself.

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