For the first time I had a functioning 6m station for the ARRL VHF contest. I used the Par Electronics Omni in its temporary location and my Kenwood TS-480SAT.
The contest started at 1800 UTC Saturday 11 June. I was a bit late for the start getting my first contact, W9GA in EN53 at 18:55 UTC. This was followed by three more stations in Wisconsin and then the band opened up for me and I could here more stations. For awhile after that I was getting a new station about every five minutes, scanning the SSB portion of the band. All my signal reports were good.
My XYL arrived home from work and wanted to go for dinner at our favorite BBQ place, Altas BBQ. Talk about the horns of a dilemma…XYL and Atlas BBQ…VHF contest…XYL and Atlas BBQ…VHF contest…hmm, what should I do? Actually it wasn’t that hard even though I am enjoying 6 meters. So after an excellent Cuban sandwich (I heard it’s good for propagation) I returned to the contest and had 26 contacts when I pulled the hook at 0259 UTC.
Most distant contacts
I had a wee bit of time to grab a few more stations on Sunday morning. In the end I contacted 33 stations including my first DX station, VE1PZ in Nova Scotia. This brings my grid total to 29 and 14 states on 6m. I really like 6m operation. The dynamics of the band are very interesting in a way that is much different from that of the HF bands. I guess that’s why it’s called the magic band. I’ll be watching for more openings and hope for a big opening to Europe.
Yes, it’s time for the latest installment of Tim’s 6m adventure. This one begins where the previous post left-off, the the Par Omni. My nice new OA-50 leaned against a workbench in my shack all week waiting to go outside and play with all the other antennas. Well Friday was the day. I stuck in on the aforementioned mast that I used to test my Par Moxon and bungee corded it to the side door of the garage workshop.
Par Omni @ 20ft
The wire in the picture is not a powerline, it’s one leg of my Cobra UltraLite Junior. It was temporarily deployed late last fall in order to have a backup for the winter in case my main antenna came down which it had the previous year during a very cold period late in January. Typical antenna behavior. They never have problems when it’s sunny and 72.
A quick test with my MFJ-259B showed that the SWR was at 1.1 at 50.125 and thru the SSB portion of the band. Using my TS-480SAT I slowly scanned through the range from 50.125 to 50.200 and didn’t hear anything. I returned to 50.125 and called CQ a few times to no avail. So I flipped back to 20m and worked some DX and NPOTA stations, occasionally checking back to 50.125 and watching DXMaps for signs of band activity.
On one of my checks I heard Ray, K9KHW and responded to his call. Being new to 6m operations I asked Ray about the tools that are typically used to check on 6m activity and he recommended the DXMaps site and also subscribing to the ON4KST chat which I subsequently did. He also recommended checking activity later in the evening. The rest of the afternoon was spent on HF.
About 7:30 PM CDT band activity appeared to be increasing as indicated by the DXMaps site. Hearing nothing on 50.125 I called CQ with no response so I moved to 50.130 and called CQ and Kevin, W9APE in Sheboygan responded. With only 38 miles between our stations we certainly weren’t pressing the limits of the 6m band but he was very helpful with a few more 6m operation questions that I had. Shortly after breaking with Kevin to tune around a bit a station from Houston, Rick K5GZR called him followed quickly by another station in Houston, Dan N5TM. I could hear the two Houston stations very well so after W9APE completed his contacts with them I gave K5GZR a call and he responded with a good signal report. After a nice conversation with Rick I called for N5TM and he responded as well with a good signal report. Both of these stations had much more substantial antenna systems than my Omni on a pipe and also power but I was able to clearly hear them (no real surprise) and more importantly they were able to clearly hear me. That’s a thousand miles on 6m with an Omni on a pipe at 20 feet and 100 watts. As I think of it I should have tried to reduce power to see how low I could have gone and still maintained contact. After breaking with Rick and Dan I tuned around a bit more and called CQ on occasion with no response. I heard KI4FCQ in Georgia on 50.125 and called for him, while he had my call we were not able to complete the contact. I returned to 50.130 and called CQ again and Matt, W3UUM responded. Matt is located well east of Houston so another 1000 miles on 6m. As a side note you should check the picture of Matt’s antenna farm on his QRZ page. It’s very nice and enough to give the average HOA president a well deserved heart attack. After a nice contact with Matt I called CQ one last time as weather radar indicated that a storm was approaching and would be at my location in less than an hour. Bruce, W9XX responded and after a short contact we both decided to pull the hook in the face of the impending storm as Bruce is located in Sheboygan and the path of the storm was angled such that the leading edge of the storm was closer to him than to me at that point.
All in all a successful day of 6m operations. The Par Omni performed as expected and given that this is the weekend for the ARRL June VHF Contest it will get a bit more workout if the band conditions allow. Plus my XYL thought the Omni looked cool which I’m certain is wife-speak for “Honey, why don’t you get some more antennas.”
Conclusion: Par Electronic’s antennas work very well and 6m is a blast!
Update: Here’s an interview with Dale Parfitt of Par Electronics
Update: Here’s a nicely done introduction to 6m operation that’s largely done on air with KF7ETX.