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Old 11-15-2016, 10:42 AM
jim202 jim202 is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: New Orleans region
Posts: 2,448
Default 6 meter FM activity

This computer of mine just dumped the message I was typing for the last 5 minutes. So now I have to start over.

I was saying back in the late 70's and early 80's I lived up in Groton, MA. Had a 180 foot tower with a 10 element 6 meter beam at the top with a rotator. Fed it with a piece of used 7/8 heliax that I scooped from some place. Didn't have a long enough piece of RG-8 coax.

Enjoyed working all sorts of stations on 6 meters on SSB. The high time of it all was one weekend when I managed to work England cross band. I was on 6 meters and I think the other station was on 10 meters.

I moved down to Louisiana and put up a 60 foot tower and used a couple of the DB folded dipole antennas that I modified for 6 meter use. The information is on the Internet on what changes need to be done to move these antennas to 6 meters. They worked great and provided many years of 6 meter activity.

I found that I had a pipeline to the area north west of Philly, PA. to a number of 6 meter repeaters in that area. The band could be dead and I would key my transmitter and hear a tail come back from one or more of the repeaters there. So I started to make some noise giving out my call and eventually would get some of the people I got to know over the radio come back to me.

These days, that no longer happens. I am sure we have the band opening, but no one and no repeaters are there. As others have said, the hams have migrated away from a very interesting band.

As I travel around the country on my many trips for work, the 6 meter radio in my truck is always on scan. Every now and then I will hear something pop through on some skip. Even get to work some of my old friends back in the Boston area on a rare occasion.

It's not that hard to get a radio on the air on 6 meter FM. Big part of it is finding a radio and all the accessories needed to make it function. You may find the radios, but for some reason, many of the radio shops that pull the radios out just chop the control and power cables. So finding the remote control cables and power cables can be a challenge at times.

I don't understand the problem because they have to open up the wire chase ways to install the new cables. But that is how the installers are trained these days to do it. they are told time is money and take every step you can to save every minute you can.

You can find the cables around if you look hard enough. The mics, speakers and control heads are all over the place.

The issue with the older Motorola radios is you need to have a slow computer with a serial port that can run DOS. When I say slow, you can get by with most computers under a 1 GHz. clock speed. It may take running a small program like "cacheoff.com" to shut off the cache in the computer. Have run into that problem a number of times with the different computers I use.

The other issue with these programming computers is that if you plan to use the programming software from the hard drive, it will need to be formatted in a FAT32 format. That way the DOS operating system can read the hard drive and store the codeplug info on the hard drive. In pulling apart many of the older computers that have a bad motherboard, I have collected a number of the 80 GHz. hard drives. These work well for this radio programming once they get formatted in the FAT32 format.

You will also need a RIB (radio Interface Box) to convert the computer RS-232 voltage to the voltage the radios are looking for. There are a number of companies that have knock off boxes that work well. Then you will need a programming cable to go between the radio and the RIB. In most cases, you can make these cables yourself. It only takes obtaining the connectors and then soldering a cable to them. The cable can come from most any serial computer cable laying around. Back when computers used serial connections, you would find one of those serial cables shipped with every device you bought. I have a box full of them stored away.

As I have said many times before in other posts, I tend to create an Excel spread sheet to keep track of the programming I do on my radios. between the RX frequency, the TX frequency and the CTCSS tone needed for many of the repeaters, plus the channel position and maybe the zone and the fixed scan list, your not going to remember it all. Plus many of these radios can hold upwards of 128 channels (modes) each. There is no way you will remember what is where, even while trying to program the radios.

Hope this helps someone get back onto 6 meters and enjoy the fun of band openings.
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Jim

Last edited by jim202; 11-15-2016 at 10:46 AM..
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