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



RU New to Six?
Chris Gare, G3WOS


Looking through the mail to the UK Six Metre Group for the last year it seems that there are a lot of newcomers to six. Questions asked inevitably seem to be centred on variants of "How and where can I hear all this DX, all I seem to hear is noise?". To answer this question I thought that it might be a good idea to briefly review the 1989 F2 season which could provide a few indicators as to when, and where, to listen this autumn.

The Lazy Person's Guide to F2DX


The Lazy Person's Guide to F2DX

But before I do this, lets understand what is really needed to work good DX on six metres. It has nothing to do with running high power, but it has everything to do with commitment. What makes six metres so interesting and addictive is that real DX is mostly very elusive, typified by either very short openings and/or weak fluttery signals. Sometimes signals are strong like KG6DX who was 59+ on the morning of Friday 6th March , but if you are not in your shack, not pointing your aerial in the right direction, not sure what is at the bottom of that pile-up, not sure what the hell is going on, or simply joining the pile-ups much too late, your chances of working the DX reduces considerably. Of course, only you can judge what time you put into the band and still meet your other commitments of family, work and social life. But if you really want to rack the countries up on six then you must put the time in listening to the white noise. Unfortunate, but true. This does not mean sitting in front of the transceiver day-in, day-out, although it can certainly mean just that at peak propagation periods. What it means is this: having the rig on all the time; having the rig in the house, not in the shed at the bottom of the garden; making a dash as soon as you hear something 'interesting'; not getting too engrossed in a film to miss that short five-minute opening; it means getting your better half to listen during the day and ringing you at work to hear what's on; finding out the exact time of mid-week opening so that you are listening at the right time at weekends; finding other local 6M enthusiasts and telephoning each other when something comes up; getting onto the DXcluster; and careful planning of holidays to avoid missing active periods. Need I go on? Of course, none of us should allow our hobby to dominate our lives but of all the bands six metres needs the most time and effort to reap the benefits. You cannot plan days off work and expect to work DX, (if you do sometimes you will be lucky!). But the message is clear, to make the best use of the band you need as much help as you can get to avoid having to listen to white noise for hours on an end - communicate. Sometimes the 'phone is more active than six!

Commitment is one thing, experience is the other. It is no good being committed if you are not aware of what is happening. Knowing what to listen for is mandatory if you are not miss the one and only chance of working that DXpedition. Subscribe to newsletters, SIXNEWS, KA3B (now edited by NI6E) newsletter, RSGB's 6M & UP DX'er, read RadCom, read Practical Wireless, and so on (and now the Internet of course!). Listen on 28.885 and 3.718 for who's where and when. Listen to the gossip and rumour and be prepared! Always try and find out the facts - when, where, times of operation, beacons, callsigns etc . Every bit of information helps.

So what about when and where to listen this autumn? There are no certainties but we can use the 1989 season's experience to minimise the chance of missing DX. The first major openings to VK8 (for me) occurred for me on the 13th October 1989. This opening typified all following openings to Oceana/Asia. They all start early morning, peaking at 0852z. Very rarely they start earlier and sometimes they can go onto 1200z, but 0900z is the best time to listen. Beam headings are usually non-great circle but I would suggest that a heading of 60 degrees be used as a starter. Headings vary between 30 and 129 degrees. The first thing to listen for is strong video coming up from the LF part of the band. This could be from Russian or Chinese television. At the same time listen on 28.885 for VK or JA stations saying that they have propagation to Europe (note who's listening at the 'other end'). Most times DX will be heard in Scandinavia or Holland before it opens up to the UK. Listen out on 6M for backscatter from European stations calling to the east. Try and grab, callsigns and frequencies to be prepared for when the propagation moves to the UK. Try and get the DX before the pile-ups start! During the month of October 1989 and early November, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Guam and the Philippines were worked during this style of F2 opening. It really was a momentous month, but little did we know what November held in store for us!

Early November brought back the midday openings to east-coast USA and Equador with the usual well-known callsigns - VE1YX, VO1MP, W3EP and HC5K coming through etc. These usually started at 1130z on a beam heading of 280 degrees. Then at 1200z on 11th November 9Y4VU was heard at 59+. This was the beginning of fantastic openings virtually every day to the Caribbean, South America and the USA lasting through to Christmas. Beam headings were between 240 and 300 degrees with most of the openings starting late morning. I managed to get some lunchtimes off and found that the magic time was 1250z. Some of the countries, heard and worked were FY (FY5AU!), 9Y, P43, PZ, ZF, KG4, OA8, KP4, HH7, YV, PJ9, VP9, VP2, VP5, V47, HI8, HK, V31, V29 etc. These big openings to the Caribbean were not repeated in 1990 - but it could happen again this autumn.

So there we are. During the autumn of 1989 there was something for everybody. You couldn't fail to work some or other exotic countries - even by HF standards. But at the end of the day it still came down to listening and being alert, ready and waiting for the next expected DX. Let us hope that this autumn is just as good. I would expect that by the time you have read this article we would have had the first of this season's openings to VK.

Good luck - I expect to here you all in the pileups and getting just as frustrated as me - just like smoking isn't it?


UKSMG Six News issue 31, October 1991


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