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6 meters??

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#1
In the process of picking a new transceiver I have narrowed my choices. I just need to decide if I really need 6 meters. The IC 718 is what I am thinking about however the IC 7200 has 6 meters included. The reason I am looking at these two is because of the good reviews and they fit my budget. I have never worked 6 meters and from what I read it can be a great band or a dead band. Wouldn’t I get as much DX action on 10 meters or is there a real advantage to 6 meters? Neither of course have FM but I don’t see that as a deal breaker, my thinking is a dedicated transceiver would be best for FM.

Any advice?
 
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#2
6M SSB was my first taste of DX as a Tech, so I'm somewhat biased :) But...

A dipole or loop would be OK if anyone in your local area is using it, as well as sporadic-E openings. We still may get F2 openings on six out of this solar cycle, but that doesn't help you much when the SFI is dead in a few years.

To really take advantage of six on a somewhat-daily basis, you need antenna gain. A 3-4 element beam goes a long way.

Personally, I'd probably get the 7200 for the better DSP capabilities, anyway. Better antennas can always come later :)
 

902

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#4
Go with 6 meters!!!

My first taste of 6 meters was an old RCA LD "Waffle Iron" on 52.525 MHz. My elmer had it in his car and made contacts that I knew (at the time) to be too far for 2 meters without a repeater. At about the same time, my hometown fire department was on 33.86 and just began transitioning to 154.445. All of the interesting stuff was still on low band, with other stations coming in from Connecticut and Pennsylvania, and occasionally much further. The old guys on the FD would tell me about DXing on 33.86, asking the other stations where they were (seriously!). The high band channel was just local stuff and was kinda "meh." I went to the hamfests of the late 70s and bought some Gonset Communicator gonkulators which were crystal controlled AM radios and used a Heathkit VFO on them. There was still AM activity to be had then; 6 meters was THE popular band before 2 meters and repeaters took off. And that was BEFORE TV went digital and mostly migrated to UHF, so people used to go through great pains to mitigate TVI just to get on.

So, through two QTHs, I had a 7 element yagi up maybe 40 feet. Now, at a third, I have an M2 3 element yagi up. I have a variety of FM radios for 52.525 and another discrete frequency my family and I use to communicate, although I'm trying to standardize around Syntor X-9000s. I have a DB-201 folded vertical groundplane antenna for that. My SSB station consists of an Icom 751A with a Down East Microwave transverter (a kit that you can build!) that goes from a 10 meter IF to 6 meters. I have a Mirage amp and a Clegg Apollo 6 amp for when I feel like I want to run around 300 Watts. I also have a trusty Yaesu FT-620B which I picked up years ago that is ready any time without having to pull wires and jumper things around to change from HF to 6. I worked Europe, Cuba, and South America with that FT-620B with just 10 Watts PEP and the 7 element antenna. I went on to take my section with my 6 meter score in the June 1998 VHF contest (I stayed up for the entire 24 hr. period and was working anyone and everyone).

There are two types of hams in this world. Those who don't get 6 (that's okay, there's plenty of other ham activities to fritter your time and effort away at if you're one of the guys who doesn't get it), and those who got bit by the bug. I think you see which one I am.

Propagation is a mixed bag. You can see spectacular results during peaks in the solar cycle, but I think activity has gone down over the years (another reason I promote 6 whenever I can). BUT, 6 is also a band where you can find auroral propagation. Get good with CW, because the auroras actually modulate your signal to where it sounds raspy. CW is perfect to get through. Pinging meteor trails with WSJT will give you contacts when you didn't even know you had any propagation whatsoever.

Be prepared for hours of nothing. And, then, be prepared for things springing to life. My 52.525 FM radio is the sentinel for SSB activity, although there are propagation beacons you can tune to. Some people put up an M2 HO loop and leave their radios on the SSB calling frequency.

So, you know what I would do. My philosophy is that anyone can string some wire and talk on HF (in other words, "that's nice"), but if you really want to get immersed in a hobby within a hobby, 6 meters is a fantastic way of doing that.

What are you going to do?
 

gaburbano

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#5
More bang for the buck..

In the process of picking a new transceiver I have narrowed my choices. I just need to decide if I really need 6 meters. The IC 718 is what I am thinking about however the IC 7200 has 6 meters included. The reason I am looking at these two is because of the good reviews and they fit my budget. I have never worked 6 meters and from what I read it can be a great band or a dead band. Wouldn’t I get as much DX action on 10 meters or is there a real advantage to 6 meters? Neither of course have FM but I don’t see that as a deal breaker, my thinking is a dedicated transceiver would be best for FM.

Any advice?
Ok, 6M is a great band when its open. Mostly unless you sit by 24/7 you can look for openings around may/june etc in the north america. Its cool, you do need a really good antenna system, pref a beam, not a huge one, but 3-5 element, and theyre not too expensive.

When I looked into getting back into HF, I did alot of research. I owned the original 706 from Icom, and it was a brick with some electronics built in, the receive was far from good but it was a nice rig at the time, and I know they improved it with the later versions. So I stayed away from Icom, especially when rigs like the yaesu FT-857D and 897D came out.. (I bought both)... One is in my truck installed and the other one I use for portable operation and take everywhere with me.

Now neither of those rigs (7200 or 718) has FM, which is fun locally and when the band opens quite interesting and fun also. Not a deal breaker you say, you are probably right. However for the price difference between the 718, 7200 and the 897D and 857D, clearly Yaesu has Icom beat with their radios. both yaesu radios are all-mode, HF/6M plus 2M and 440. on HF/6M you get 100w cw/ssb mode. On 2M you get 50W all mode and if you want to mess around with AM you get 25w on hf/6M and 25w on 2M, plus 12.5w on 440. Both are relatively small, 12V and the 897D even operates on batteries (pricey, but hey you pay for convenience).

Now I dont work for Yaesu but do use those radios, and I actually take them on the road and the hills, camping, and on the beaches. I operate outdoors often, and have used them with all power sources solar thru battery, etc.. In my opinion the only other radio that competes with the 897D as far as portable and all mode is the Kenwood TS-2000, although its really not designed to be carried everywhere. That radio is well more money than the others. During our portable operation Ive set up my cushcraft 3 element beam on a portable mast and have had much success when 6M does do well.

Choose carefully but if you are going to spend close to $800 on a new transceiver, spending another $100 or so give you all mode/2M/440-HF/6M, small package in a 857D or the same plus some rugged portable operation/battery powered 897D.

You can check out my qrz page and see the portable operation we do.

good luck

George
N2ZNC
 
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#6
If you want to work DX, then concentrate on 20 meters. Six meters is an -exciting- band. Antennas are relatively small, The band -might- be open, maybe not, but that makes it just more enjoyable when it does. Twenty meters is predictable, and that's why you DX there. Six is VERY unpredictable and that's what makes it FUN!

I LOVE working Aurora on six and two. Chasing grid squares is a kick too. =:^]
 

gaburbano

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#7
If you want to work DX, then concentrate on 20 meters. Six meters is an -exciting- band. Antennas are relatively small, The band -might- be open, maybe not, but that makes it just more enjoyable when it does. Twenty meters is predictable, and that's why you DX there. Six is VERY unpredictable and that's what makes it FUN!

I LOVE working Aurora on six and two. Chasing grid squares is a kick too. =:^]
Agree.. Its more fun when you can tune around, and get those rare contacts on bands that arent a practical guarantee.. I mean if you want to simply make some contacts then 20m is almost guaranteed. But get on 6m-10m even 15m or 17m and search out some contacts.

This is why, guys that crank up there 1.5Kilo on a tower mounted beam love to just write a bunch of call letters on a log, when a great antenna system, and 100 watts combined with great operating can blast right through them...

George
 
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#8
O.K. you all have convinced me that I should go with a rig that has 6 meters. The IC 7200 will do that.

Still not sure I need FM. Am I missing something with FM? All I ever used in the past was AM (very little) SSB, and CW.

Can someone explain what the advantage is with FM? Isn’t it limited to repeater and local?
 
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Auburn, CA
#9
10 meter FM repeaters are a kick in the pants. For us on the west coast, hitting a 10M repeater that's halfway or more across the country and repeating a European station is a hoot. Also, 6M FM offers the same opportunities when the "Magic Band" is open.
 
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#10
O.K. you all have convinced me that I should go with a rig that has 6 meters. The IC 7200 will do that.

Still not sure I need FM. Am I missing something with FM? All I ever used in the past was AM (very little) SSB, and CW.

Can someone explain what the advantage is with FM? Isn’t it limited to repeater and local?
I think it's fun - moreso on 10 - but it wouldn't be a deal-breaker for me unless you have club repeaters on the band. My local club happens to have an excellent 6M machine, along with a couple others in the nearest cities.

It's cool hearing people from across the country (and world, on 10M) in perfect clarity on FM, but I'd rather keep a radio parked on 50.125 and wait for DX that way...
 

902

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#11
O.K. you all have convinced me that I should go with a rig that has 6 meters. The IC 7200 will do that.

Still not sure I need FM. Am I missing something with FM? All I ever used in the past was AM (very little) SSB, and CW.

Can someone explain what the advantage is with FM? Isn’t it limited to repeater and local?
Welcome to 6 then!

FM is kind of a different animal. Much of the activity is confined to 52.5250 MHz using modified commercial radio equipment. You might see a book from Zen-In (William Ogilvie) that does step-by-step modification of Maxar, Maxar-80, and Moxy radios to very reliable crystal controlled 6 meter rigs. I have a copy of it somewhere, but I can no longer see it available on the Internet. You change parts out and realign the radio. But they are super reliable.

I had a Maratrac base set mostly on 52.525 and sometimes on another frequency close by where I used to talk to my wife as we were driving around (she's a ham, too). I have a Syntor X-9000 mobile, an older Azden that's not made anymore, and some crystal controlled Wilson mobiles from 80s vintage. They were all really good.

Repeaters or simplex? Back in the day, there was a ham who was in charge of a large highway radio system in the northeast. He built a radio system on 6 that was the premier repeater in that state. He had voting receivers from one end of the highway to the other tied into a voting comparator in his office, and the output was fed by microwave up to transmitters that hopscotched from A to B to A to B and so forth. As you lost A or got interference, you switch to B and it was 100%. Lose B and switch back to A. Like that. He retired, and it seems you just can't do those kinds of things anymore. I got on it in probably 1989. It was fantastic starting a conversation "up there" and driving for hours being able to keep in touch. Of course, this was before most people had cellular phones. And, this system was spectrum efficient, using 3 frequencies to cover an entire state and the orphaned input could be a simplex channel. You can't say that of many linked systems today.

Practically, you don't need a repeater. Duplexers are large, or building a repeater may require two separate sites with a link for adequate transmitter to receiver isolation. But there are a few out there. My experience has been a typical 25 mile radius from vehicle to vehicle, 100 W using a ball-and-spring quarterwave antenna (like what a lot of Highway Patrols have or had).

And, I have worked a number of gridsquares on 52.525. They count as much as SSB, CW, or WSJT contacts do. So, yes, DX is possible there.

If you do this in your shack, you might find it's one of your first indications that the band opened up. You aren't necessarily tuning around on 6 FM more than the radio is parked to a frequency of your choice and someone breaks through.

You will want 2 separate antennas. Use a vertically polarized antenna for that and cut it for either your repeater inputs (if that's what you're going to do) or for 52.525. You want a horizontal antenna for SSB/CW. That should be tuned between 50.1 to 50.3. Mine is set to 50.2, a popular frequency, although 50.125 MHz is listed as the calling frequency. Lower frequencies are used by DX, and the band fills up moving upward. I also use a preamp and step attenuator sometimes.
 
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Location
Virginia
#12
6 meters can an odd band. A long time ago before I was licensed, I observed hams using a lower band to communicate the 6 meter propagation.
I thought it was very strange that people monitor a frequency on 10 meters to listen for people who found an opening on 6 meters. People called it a liaison frequency. Monitor 10 meters and wait for someone to jump on there and say that 6 meters was open. Switch to 6 meters and make an attempt to contact.
Many times you got the following. "Oops! I waited too long during the change from 10 meters to the new band and tune up on 6 meters... the band closed."

With web sites that are up to date it is a bit easier.

For local simplex communications. 6 Meters can be nice to use.
I know people used to have issues with television interference, but that is not an issue today. I say go for it and get a radio that includes the band. 6 meters has great range. If you want to use it for DX, you will have a challenge.

Also 6 meters is not used as much as 2 meters. If you are in need of a band where you have fewer people in the way, use 6 meters.
 
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