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Making Contacts / On the Air - Have a question about getting on the air or how to make a contact? Just want to brag about your latest DX contact or contest score? This is the forum for you.

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Old 07-13-2015, 9:49 PM
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Earlier today around 6:30-7:00pm eastern time I noticed my DX spotter show a lot of folks in 1,2, and 3 zones were making Q's on 6. So I tuned to the frequencies and wala I heard these stations from the Carribian transmitting but it appeared to me that they didn't hear me. One guy called CQ several times and when paused I tried but no go. My question is just because I can hear him and the band conditions getting better is it possible he doesn't hear me at all? I'm starting to figure the spotter software out as to if I see a W2 station working a person I should be able to. Any input of this would greatly appreciated. Thank you.
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Old 07-13-2015, 9:57 PM
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Was the DX station working split in that he was transmitting on one frequency but listening on another?
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Old 07-13-2015, 10:00 PM
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It could be the other stations were running more than 100w and/or had a really good antenna allowing you to hear them but your antenna may not be up to the task of getting back to them. I've had some trouble getting back to 6m stations during weak openeings when using a marginal antenna and when I switched to a 5 element 6m Yagi on a 24ft boom all the DX stations could hear me just fine. I could also hear many stations that did not exist without the Yagi.

How much power were you running and kind of 6m antenna?
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Originally Posted by AC2OY View Post
Earlier today around 6:30-7:00pm eastern time I noticed my DX spotter show a lot of folks in 1,2, and 3 zones were making Q's on 6. So I tuned to the frequencies and wala I heard these stations from the Carribian transmitting but it appeared to me that they didn't hear me. One guy called CQ several times and when paused I tried but no go. My question is just because I can hear him and the band conditions getting better is it possible he doesn't hear me at all? I'm starting to figure the spotter software out as to if I see a W2 station working a person I should be able to. Any input of this would greatly appreciated. Thank you.
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Old 07-13-2015, 10:06 PM
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What type of a antenna were you using? If it was directional, where was it pointed?

Like PRC pointed out, they might be able to put out enough signal for you to hear, but not the other way around.

Also, if you were picking them up on a lobe other than your main lobe, you might be aiming off from the DX.

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Old 07-13-2015, 10:17 PM
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Great questions not sure if they were working split. My antenna is a Comet 250-B mounted on a 20 foot flagpole so it's up about 45 feet? I usually run 80 watts. Would the DX spotter dictate if these guys are running split? What they would listen on 50.1400 and transmit on 50.1500? I suppose I still have much to learn here but I'm having fun.
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Old 07-14-2015, 5:49 AM
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Sounds like an antenna situation. If the other station is using a directional Yagi antenna optimized for 6m DXing and you are using a multi-band vertical (jack of all trades, master of none), it's very likely that the other station simply can't hear you.
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Old 07-14-2015, 10:51 PM
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Thank you Bob that's what I thought as well.
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Old 07-14-2015, 10:59 PM
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Six Meters is called the Magic Band for a reason. Just because its open to your zone, does not mean its open to you. During Field Day this year a station 12 miles from me was able to work a 6m opening to Montana that I could not hear. Talk about frustrating.
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Old 07-15-2015, 3:59 AM
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Six Meters is called the Magic Band for a reason. Just because its open to your zone, does not mean its open to you. During Field Day this year a station 12 miles from me was able to work a 6m opening to Montana that I could not hear. Talk about frustrating.
Yes I hear you Brian. Tonight I got a Q on a new band but I will keep trying on 6
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Old 07-15-2015, 5:59 AM
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I think your antenna is about 90% of the problem. The Comet is similar to running a 23ft wire vertical with a 6:1 or 9:1 balun at the base, not a very efficient radiating antenna on any band.

The problem is compounded on 10 and 6m because there are no traps or anything to break up the long radiating element into something that will put the signal at the horizon on 10 and 6m, so much of your power is going way up in the air or down at the ground where its not doing much good. On 6m the Comet is a little longer than a full wavelength and if you look up the radiating pattern of that you'll see the problem. On the lower bands the antenna is less than 3/4 wavelength and the main lobe will be more towards the horizon, although still lower in intensity than most other types of antennas.

Look at it this way, you can stick a short clip lead in the back of an HF radio and hear stations, but that doesn't mean you can contact them by transmitting on the same clip lead. Antennas are reciprocal, meaning whatever they do on transmit they also do on receive. If you had a higher performing antenna for transmitting on 6m (or any band) you will also hear better. The same weak DX stations you heard on the Comet antenna will be bigger stronger stations on a better antenna and there will be a much better chance they hear you.
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Originally Posted by AC2OY View Post
Great questions not sure if they were working split. My antenna is a Comet 250-B mounted on a 20 foot flagpole so it's up about 45 feet? I usually run 80 watts. Would the DX spotter dictate if these guys are running split? What they would listen on 50.1400 and transmit on 50.1500? I suppose I still have much to learn here but I'm having fun.
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Old 07-15-2015, 7:26 AM
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You never mentioned if you were using SSB or FM for these contacts. Makes a big difference in the antenna you should be using. First of all if what your talking about is SSB, then you should be using a horizontally polarized antenna. The FM segment of the 6 meter band uses vertical polarization.

Another way to predict a band opening for 6 meters is to watch the weather fronts. If there is a good sized front moving between you and the distant station, your chances are good to see some sort of band opening. The location of the distant station is in a direct line between you, the storm front and the station. The distance between you and the front will be about the same distance from the front to the distant station. Depending on how fast the front is moving, will determine how long the skip will be there.

If you pay attention to the distance away from you the storm front is, you will start to see the sweet spot is that will predict the distant stations. Once you watch what, where and when, it will be easy to look to the weather man for the next skip that may pop it's head up. Just don't expect to work a station from the east coast to the west coast on this type of skip.

Just remember that on 6 meters, there could very well be a band opening and no one is there. You might want to try looking for 6 meter repeaters that are some where in relation to where you think the band may open up to. Get on the FM section of the band and see if you can key up any of the repeaters. I use to use this method many years ago. Problem with it these days is that the number of active 6 meter repeaters is declining.

Let me go back to the antenna issue and make one last comment. If your using the wrong polarization for your antenna, it will cause your signal to be down at least 20 db. That's a whole bunch. So bear this in mind when your going after 6 meter skip. Use horizontal for SSB and vertical for the FM section of the band.
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Old 07-15-2015, 7:51 AM
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Polarity on skip signals will be random and not what they started out as. You can generally switch from horizontal to vertical with little difference in signal strength. Even on point to point line of sight its hard to see 20dB of cross pol due to signals bouncing off of stuff and scattering.
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Originally Posted by jim202 View Post
You never mentioned if you were using SSB or FM for these contacts. Makes a big difference in the antenna you should be using. First of all if what your talking about is SSB, then you should be using a horizontally polarized antenna. The FM segment of the 6 meter band uses vertical polarization.

Another way to predict a band opening for 6 meters is to watch the weather fronts. If there is a good sized front moving between you and the distant station, your chances are good to see some sort of band opening. The location of the distant station is in a direct line between you, the storm front and the station. The distance between you and the front will be about the same distance from the front to the distant station. Depending on how fast the front is moving, will determine how long the skip will be there.

If you pay attention to the distance away from you the storm front is, you will start to see the sweet spot is that will predict the distant stations. Once you watch what, where and when, it will be easy to look to the weather man for the next skip that may pop it's head up. Just don't expect to work a station from the east coast to the west coast on this type of skip.

Just remember that on 6 meters, there could very well be a band opening and no one is there. You might want to try looking for 6 meter repeaters that are some where in relation to where you think the band may open up to. Get on the FM section of the band and see if you can key up any of the repeaters. I use to use this method many years ago. Problem with it these days is that the number of active 6 meter repeaters is declining.

Let me go back to the antenna issue and make one last comment. If your using the wrong polarization for your antenna, it will cause your signal to be down at least 20 db. That's a whole bunch. So bear this in mind when your going after 6 meter skip. Use horizontal for SSB and vertical for the FM section of the band.
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Old 07-15-2015, 10:32 AM
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My two cents:
I feel a vertical for DX should be at ground level. You need that low angle of radiation.
I've worked a whole lot of DX with a Hustler trap vertical at ground level, on an pipe 18" into the ground, with no radials.
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Old 07-15-2015, 11:57 AM
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Your Hustler will work a LOT better with a dozen or more radials. I've installed lots of verticals and have watched the S meter raise up noticeably with the first dozen or so radials then the improvement diminishes but more is still beneficial.

It turns out an elevated vertical with radials like on a roof has a lower take off angle than a ground mounted vertical unless you have a massive ground screen or 120 radials.
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My two cents:
I feel a vertical for DX should be at ground level. You need that low angle of radiation.
I've worked a whole lot of DX with a Hustler trap vertical at ground level, on an pipe 18" into the ground, with no radials.
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Old 07-21-2015, 1:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jim202 View Post
Another way to predict a band opening for 6 meters is to watch the weather fronts. If there is a good sized front moving between you and the distant station, your chances are good to see some sort of band opening. The location of the distant station is in a direct line between you, the storm front and the station. The distance between you and the front will be about the same distance from the front to the distant station. Depending on how fast the front is moving, will determine how long the skip will be there.
OK, I'm a little confused here. I understand that storm fronts can contribute to tropospheric ducting, and certainly tropo can have a significant effect on 6M propagation, but what does that have to do with skip? Ionospheric skip is a completely different phenomena. Are you saying a storm front causes the formation of Sporadic E clouds? There's been theories bandied about for years regarding the relationship between thunderstorms and Sporadic E, but to my knowledge the correlation has never been proven.

Am I missing something?

Thanks
.
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Old 03-22-2016, 9:51 PM
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The earth return angles of radiation is quite apparent on 50mhz, and while F-level skip signals arrive very low, if is a different matter for E refraction. For communications other than line-of-sight, a low quarter wave antenna is often superior to a high mounted antenna, and this is especially evident if you look at the radiation patterns of such antennas v.s the arrival angles of DX signals.

--- A practical observation of this is where I live. I am surrounded by 13- to-14,000 foot mountains to the North and West rising over 11-12 degrees, and to the East by 8-9 - from the horizon. The majority of F layer 50 mhz DX signals would, and I say "would" but they can't --- arrive but for those mountains- at angles between 3 and 9 degrees above the horizon.... thus I live in what is a radio 'black hole' for this type of skip. E layer is something else, since E skip arrives at much higher angles. In the summer 600 to 1000 mile DX is common- but nothing further unless it is double-hop. Since the signals get scrambled in transit, horizonal v.s vertical polarization doesn't seem to matter- both are effective. And since E-skip is so effective with QRP, I use only 20 watts to a 5/8 wave vertical on 50 mhz, and it works for me just as well as a beam and QRO.
The science of propagation is fascinating, and an adherence to physics will pay dividends in understanding how all this works (might I suggest a nice place to start?- the ARRL Antenna Book.)
Hmmmmm--- well, understanding this it is nice, but it doesn't get signals through mountain ranges.....

.................................CF
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Old 03-23-2016, 4:06 PM
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How good is 6 meters currently?

Just been loaned an FT-990 for a few weeks. I have a 6 meter dipole too.
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Old 03-23-2016, 4:52 PM
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I use this site to see if Six is open: --> QSO/SWL real time maps - NA - 50

People log stations that they work. The site draws a line between them and the station that they had contact with. This lets you see where six is open to. Below is a screen capture of what you'll see when it is open:

It should get like this in another month or so when sporadic E season opens up:
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Old 03-23-2016, 5:46 PM
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Thanks for the link!

I will not have the radio that long, but I'll play around with it and see if I can get lucky.
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Old 03-23-2016, 7:11 PM
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Do any of you active hams use six meters (SSB, CW) for local communications? It seems that most of us patiently wait for the "magic to appear", as opposed to also using the band for regional contacts as well.

I enjoy 50, 144, 222 and 432 MHz and feel that six meters has the listeners and watchers, but most may just be lurking for that elusive band opening and new grid square.
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