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  #21 (permalink)  
Old 01-28-2016, 1:31 PM
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Originally Posted by W5KVV View Post
I'm wanting to get into 6m FM pretty bad. I've located a nice commercial rig that will work 6 & 10 meters. How many of you guys work 6m FM? I'm just curious on what kind of antenna you're using.

I'm looking a the Arrow 6m beam antennas. I already have a rotor & associated hardware. My current tower setup will have me a little over 30 ft. AGL. Since it's FM, would a vertically polarized beam work better than a horizontal? I know 6m operates alot like HF, which favors a horizontal beam. Or so I'm told.

Anyways, any advise is greatly appreciated.
I've worked 6 meter FM since the late 70s and had 2 repeaters up, one in the Northeast, the other in the Midwest.

52.525 is the most active frequency. Your mileage may vary for local activity, but when the band opens up, you will hear whomever is on the air. There were rough patches with people setting up remote bases or cross patches to 2 meter repeaters killing this frequency for local users. Hopefully, all those have moved to their own frequency. (You can tell I hate that, right?)

You can use simplex, simplex is typically 30 - 40% greater than 2 meters. I used 6 meters in the Midwest exclusively for family contact. We got simplex range comparable or better than 2 meter repeaters. 6 meters also works very nicely in rolling terrain, where 440 or higher would be shadowed. I use Maratracs, Syntor X-9000, and Kenwood TK-6110-2 mobiles. I also have Regency, Aerotron, and Maxar-80 mobiles. 6 meter FM is nothing short of slick.

There is more activity on SSB, but 6 meter FM is certainly not dead. In fact, when the band is open, distant stations are often full quieting and can sound like they are very close to you.

Anything that's resonant can work for an antenna, but traditionally, FM is vertically polarized, and SSB/AM/CW ("weak signal") is horizontally polarized. The best mobile antenna is a ball-and-spring. No loading coil. A popular FM vertical antenna is a DB-201 "trombone." It's unity gain, but works well. Mine's tuned to 52.525.

For SSB, I had a 7 element homebrew W1JR beam, but since I moved, I have a compromise M2 3 element beam that works okay.

If you're using a Syntor-X or X-9000, you can have a 10 meter ball-and-spring whip, and a 6 meter ball-and-spring whip with a harness that allows you to use both bands.
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Old 01-28-2016, 3:32 PM
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Various scanners are set to check 52.525 MHz FM. Often nothing is heard here in central California, but during the summer months, an operator out of Chicago will boom in frequently, as well as a few other states. I am able to turn down the power to 10 watts and have a clear QSO while it lasts.

6 meter SSB is relatively dead here too, until the VHF/UHF contests.
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Old 01-28-2016, 4:26 PM
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There's an orienteering event each year in Southern Indiana that is supported by amateur radio. The area is remote enough that the 2m repeaters in area don't provide good coverage. Due to the terrain, 2m simplex isn't always reliable, either. But, we have found that 6m FM simplex usually works pretty well.
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Old 01-29-2016, 4:47 AM
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I work both FM and SSB on 6 meters with a Kenwood TS-590s.

There are several 6 meter FM repeaters within easy range and I seldom hear anyone on any of them. I use a homebrew vertically polarized dipole half wave dipole at about 30' AGL..

On SSB, I use my horizontally polarized 80-40-20 fan dipole at about 60' AGL and seldom hear anything there either, unless I tune in at 7:30-8 am EST for the Virginia 6 meter net.
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Old 02-17-2016, 8:42 PM
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Red face why 6 FM

Ahhh! 6 meter FM-- near and dear to my heart!. There was a time when ' 525' would be Bedlam any E-skip opening-- (52.525 Mhz FM, that is...and-the memories-- I was a KX6 with at a RCA base, 150 Watts to a quarter wave antenna-- but, forgive me- nostalgia)
Alas, those days are long past.
Today I have an Icom 525- which, for lack of any other good purpose, I will park on 52.525 during the summer- and year after year I seldom hear so much as a burp on the frequency- though California is an easy E-Skip from my home in the Rockies. 6 meter SSB is quite a bit different, but only expect to hear anything amounting to excitement that 6 is returning is if it is during an ARRL contest.
10 FM? 29.600 is also dead, unless the band is open-- then you will get squashed by everyone else in the hemisphere- if you are lucky you may get to exchange callsigns. Move off to another frequency?? (like 29.590?-- good luck, most hams don't know what you asked them to do, or can't move there anyway) The 10 meter repeaters are hopeless during openings- and why would anyone want to operate DX thru a repeater?
On a positive side, have you ever consider 10 meter AM?-- 29.000 Mhz?-- this is quite a 'gentleman/lady's spot on the band, where most hams are using QRP (aka- converted old CB radio's)
Maybe 10 AM isn't for everyone, but unfortunately to me its a lot better than Six or Ten FM. Good luck- Cheers - CF
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Old 03-27-2016, 8:15 PM
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Originally Posted by W5KVV View Post
Thanks for the input guys.

I understand there isin't as much traffic on 6m FM, but I like the odd ball stuff like that. 220, 6 FM, that kind of jazz.

If I get on 6 FM & have a good, clean ragchew with someone else that I normally couldn't contact on 2m or 440, then it's money well spent in my book.
My thoughts exactly. 220 activity is pretty sparse here in my part of Northern California, but I still try to work it. The same with 6 meters now that I have a rig with capability for it.

I've come up with a little slogan to use if there was ever a campaign to rejuvenate 220 MHz: "Keep 1.25 Alive." I know it's silly but I like it.

W5KVV, if you're ever within range of California's Central Valley, I'd be glad to ragchew with you on either band!
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Old 03-27-2016, 9:07 PM
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Originally Posted by vr2zap View Post
May i ask whats the band characteristic difference between 6M SSB and FM?
73 vr2zap
SSB on any band will punch thru farther than FM due to the narrow bandwidth compared to FM.

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Old 03-28-2016, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by vr2zap View Post
May i ask whats the band characteristic difference between 6M SSB and FM?
73 vr2zap
This is a pretty old question. But there is no difference in the band characteristics between SSB and FM. The difference is in the modulation. SSB is a lot more efficient and takes less power to push your signal vs pushing that big fat FM carrier. So both direct wave range, and DX will be better at the same power on SSB.

We have some locals (myself included) that run 6m SSB with homebrew 5/8 wave verticals for local ragchews on direct wave. Direct wave conditions vary a bit, but normally 100 miles is not a problem on the verticals.

At any rate, the activity on FM is pretty limited. SSB is where it's at if you want to have fun on 6 meters. The band can be lonely place on FM unless you have an active repeater nearby.
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Old 03-28-2016, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by AC9KH View Post
This is a pretty old question. But there is no difference in the band characteristics between SSB and FM. The difference is in the modulation. SSB is a lot more efficient and takes less power to push your signal vs pushing that big fat FM carrier. So both direct wave range, and DX will be better at the same power on SSB.

We have some locals (myself included) that run 6m SSB with homebrew 5/8 wave verticals for local ragchews on direct wave. Direct wave conditions vary a bit, but normally 100 miles is not a problem on the verticals.

At any rate, the activity on FM is pretty limited. SSB is where it's at if you want to have fun on 6 meters. The band can be lonely place on FM unless you have an active repeater nearby.
Great info - just one thing to add. Since most 6 FM is 2-3 MHz above SSB/CW frequencies when we get E or F skip, it can be seen on SSB/CW before it makes its way to the FM part of the band. Not a huge difference, but combine that with the facts that there are many more operators active on SSB/CW and the modes are capable of weaker signal receive and you will notice a big difference in activity.

I love FM and SSB/CW on 6, and am always happy to work new folks!

73,
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Old 03-28-2016, 11:54 AM
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Another thing on 6 meters that is pretty fun, for me, is to go to 50.290 and put out a few QRP CQ's with PSK31. I have made several dozen contacts doing that on the vertical when nobody else thinks the band is open. I normally run 2-3 watts. I also sometimes leave the rig and computer running when I am not in the shack, and monitor 50.290. I have picked up many CQ's being sent out that way with PSK31 when I am not at the station, and that tells me when and where the band was open to.

As we get into early summer thru fall, VHF ducting can happen any time you get a weather front, temperature inversion, etc. Watch the weather maps and if you see a cold front coming, which will push warm air over the top of the front and create sometimes rainy or t-storm conditions, get on 6 and try to work it along that front!

I have worked DX on 6 meters with nothing but a lamp cord dipole hung from the curtain rod in front of the picture window in the living room at 10 watts on SSB phone. When 6 opens up you don't need no Big Gun station to have fun with it. I got my 5/8 wave vertical, a phased all-driven three element horizontal beam, and a nine-element phased dipole array that I have tried (unsuccessfully) on EME - all homebrew antennas. The beam is fine IF I have it pointed in the right direction at the right time. But frankly I pick up more band openings on the vertical than I do on the beam. Of course, once I pick them up, I work them on the beam. But I've worked plenty on the vertical too.

6 is my favorite band of all them. It's available to all license classes, and is LOADS of fun when you get an opening.
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Old 03-28-2016, 12:31 PM
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Quote:
Let's talk about 6m FM
Funny how just about every discussion of 6 meter FM
seems to go off topic to a discussion of the virtues of SSB.

Here, outside Corbett, OR 180m ASL
- monitoring 52.525 MHz FM during most waking hours.

Oh, and I (we) make use of it, too.
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Old 03-28-2016, 1:44 PM
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Funny how just about every discussion of 6 meter FM
seems to go off topic to a discussion of the virtues of SSB.
Simply because most of the activity on 6 meters is SSB. We have a 6m repeater here locally and haven't heard that repeater key up in three years. Everybody uses the 2m one. There are a few areas where FM on 6m is active, but they are few and far between because of the prevalence of 2m FM and repeaters, and the expense and size of the cans for a 6m repeater. So what activity there is on 6m FM is mostly simplex and you have to search for that to find active groups using it.

It's just the facts of 6m FM. Kind of like the old low-band VHF business radios that used to be so popular in both business and the public safety arenas. Everybody went to repeaters and higher frequency VHF or UHF/satellite/cell so the old VHF low-band business spectrum is basically a shadow of what it once was.
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Old 03-28-2016, 3:19 PM
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In my view, they are two different animals.

Sure, I can leave SSB on, but the beauty of FM is that when the band isn't open, it's quiet. When the band opens up, it's nothing short of a free-for-all. 29.6 is more or less the same. It's very cool to hear how clear the stations sound on FM, and when nothing's happening, you can pretty much go about your business ignoring the radios until conditions change.
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Old 03-28-2016, 4:24 PM
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I use to be real active on 6 meter FM up to about 10 years ago. Used some low band folded dipoles at the house that I managed to pick up from the radios shops in my travels. Modified them for 6 meter FM use.

Like others have said, the band will be open and no one knows it's open. I use to be able to hit 6 meter repeaters up in the Northeast all the time when it did open up. On my travels home across the big Lake Pontchartrain, it was no unusual for me to work Canadian 6 meter repeaters frequently. Antenna on the vehicle was just a 1/4 wave whip on the roof.

In the good old days, I have used GE Mastr II, GE Delta S, GE MLS, Motorola Motrac, Micor and Syntor X9000 on 6 meters. Think I like the Syntor X9000 the best. Easy to program, little to no tuning to get it to play well and it does like to put out the power. I like to use the A9 or 9000 head as some call them. they provide the most flexibility. Yup you can also use the Syntor X9000 on 10 meters. Just change antennas.

As far as 6 meter SSB goes, there are those that think they own some frequencies or you can't use certain frequencies. They act like the frequency police. Basically I ask them if they own it. When they say no, then I stand my ground and use it. No one was using it before I got there, so why should this individual tell me I can't use it.
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Old 03-28-2016, 7:09 PM
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I will add mine to the the voices that are professing their love of 6 metre's... and I must confess, it is probably my favorite band when I venture below 1 thousand meg's.... but 6 is just a mere shadow of what it was in the past. The propagation, of course, hasn't changed, but does anyone remember what it was like back in the Six metre AM days, when it was the lowest band a Tech could operate?.... Every metropolitan area had dozen, hundreds of 6 metre operators. We where on every day- every night...teenagers (like me) with their homebrew'd contraptions and hay-wired antennas talking from 50.1 up the band.....50.400?.. remember it?... call on it and you could expect a QSO, like as not. We youthful's where not welcomed *At All !* on places like 75, 20 'phone- Six was ours. And the summer E-skip was just wild!-- From the bottom of the 'phone band often as high as 51-point whatever Mhz's.. Solid signals..QRP stations... it was a circus! My first international DX contact to Costa Rica still makes me smile (I have long since forgotten doing anything similar to that on 20)

I think the demographics of ham radio is what changed 6. "Tech's on 10" was a big push since first Tech was licensed. When it finally happened, it siphon'd off who knows how many, most never looked back-- (Don't get me wrong , I think it was a great idea)
Six is still the 'magic band' to many of us, but I would not look for any great revival. Enjoy it for what it is this summer, go out and promote it as a great simplex band, --and if you have a radio you can put on '525' do so- give a few "I'm listening " calls this summer-- and have fun... (maybe I'll hear you !

...............................CF
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Old 03-29-2016, 1:59 AM
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All fine and well put viewpoints. I have enjoyed both SSB and FM contacts, but if we do not use it, we run the possibility of losing it. It's a great band, see you on 6.

ed N3KEX
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Old 03-29-2016, 9:19 AM
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Originally Posted by jim202 View Post
As far as 6 meter SSB goes, there are those that think they own some frequencies or you can't use certain frequencies.
That's true. At least on .525 FM nobody thinks they own it and it's a free-for-all when the band opens. Not so in the SSB portion where there are some stations that get quite vocal if you hold a ragchew on a frequency they consider is one of theirs, even when the band isn't open.
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Old 03-29-2016, 9:30 AM
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The propagation, of course, hasn't changed, but does anyone remember what it was like back in the Six metre AM days, when it was the lowest band a Tech could operate?....
2m AM used to be the same way. I had both a Heathkit Twoer and a Sixer back in the early 70's before all the repeaters popped up all over, and had loads of fun with them. Then dropped out of ham radio for 30+ years, sold my radios and got a wife and family instead. And now both those bands are only a shadow of what they were back then. Used to run 11 meters too, call sign KIN9405, and that is also fallen into disarray.
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Old 03-29-2016, 10:16 AM
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Neat discussion, and of course it brings back memories--

I don't think ham's are in much danger of loosing 6 metre's, (or 125cm's either)-- who wants them?...Six metre's in particular. Its neither VHF or HF in its propagation- Business/government doesn't want the annoyance of the seasonal skip that wrecks havoc on their channels, the antennas are too long for efficient handheld's and marginally so for mobiles, plus things like the bands are too narrow for anything fancy..... they are best left to simple single channel users, if that. Developing countries?..well another story...

All this aside, 6 is still a great place for the serious experimenter and hobbyist alike
.
I would not be surprised if someone doesn't propose another US ham band in the 54-88 MHz region (4 metre's??) Now that practically all TV has vacated that spectrum, these frequencies sit as a waste land after the wrecking ball's leveling, growing weeds, looking for some new enterprise.

Ahhh!... but meanwhile, anyone noticed that with the disappearance of the Megawatt Channel 2, 3 Analog signals that the noise floor on Six has drop astronomically? Somethings do get better as time goes by.
....................CF

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Old 03-29-2016, 12:31 PM
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When 10 meters is open, I often monitor the European FM CB frequencies. You'd be surprised at how much DX comes in on FM from over the pond, and most of them are only using 5 Watts!!
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