THE SIX METER AMATEUR RADIO BAND
50 MHz in Belgium:
In Belgium radioamateur operators may use:
50.000 - 50.100 CW only 50.020 - 50.080 Beacons 50.090 CW calling frequency 50.100 - 50.500 SSB and CW only 50.100 - 50.130 DX window TTY 50.110 Intercontinental calling frequency 50.150 SSB centre of activity 50.185 Cross-band activity centre 50.200 - 50.250 MS reference frequency (CW and SSB) 50.285 PSK center of activity 50.400 +/- 500hz WSPR beacons 50.500 - 51.000 All modes 50.500 - 50.700 Digital communications 50.510 SSTV 50.520 - 50.540 Simplex FM internet gateways 50.550 Fax 50.600 RTTY 50.620 - 50.750 Digital communications 50.710 - 50.910 FM repeater outputs (UK) 51.000 - 52.000 All modes 51.210 Emergency communications priority 51.210 - 51.410 FM repeater inputs (UK) All modes 51.430 - 51.590 FM, 20kHz channel spacing 51.510 FM calling 51.810 - 51.990 FM repeater outputs
More about 6-meters bandplan
Most SSB and CW operation takes place in the lower 250KHz portion of the band (50.000-50.250). From 50 MHz up to around 50.08 Mhz the band is populated by various beacons. Around 150 beacons are operational world-wide at present and more are planned. 50.08 to 50.110 is the center of CW activity although, in common with the other bands, CW can be used in the SSB portion also.
Home made antenna's: 3-element 6-meter band beam
home made 6-metres 50 Mc 1/2 wave vertical antenna
50.150 MHz are probably the most monitored frequency in the
entire amateur bands allocation.
50.110 is the intercontinental DX calling frequency, and is where the first signals during an opening are likely to be heard. Weak DX signals will generally make their first calls on 50.110 MHz; it is for this reason that general operation on or near this frequency is positively discouraged. The UK has one of the highest concentrations of six metre activity in the world, most of whom are listening on or close to 50.110; bear this in mind before calling on this frequency.
50.2 MHz is the local calling frequency although it is rarely used as such. This frequency is the lower limit of the French allocation.
Generally local QSO's take place normally within about 30 KHz of 50.2, but should not take place below about 50.150 MHz.
Map of European Beacons
50 MHz European Beacons Map
GOOD 50 MHz Related WEB SITES
Six Meter Group
OZ50MHz DX Bulletins
50 MHz DX Page of SM7AED
The French 50MHz Bulletin
Internet SIX NEWS by GJ4ICD-G4ICD
ZS Six Metre News
Worldwide 6 m beacons
Six Metres. 6 Meters. 50MHz DX. 50MHz News Information
N4IP's 6 meter resources page
Six Meter Italy Group
Solar MUF Conditions
Geomagnetic development in real time!
Weather reports (Dutch language)
Weather reports (English language)
50 MHz DX Cluster from OH
50 MHz DX Cluster from USA
ON6MU HomeBrew 50mc
WHAT IS THE SIX-METER BAND?
The 6 meter band is a portion of
the radio spectrum around 50 MHz allocated to amateur radio. If
you like a challenge, this is it! If you want reliable, easy,
worldwide ham radio communication, stick to 20 meters. If you
enjoy a challenging band that changes moment to moment, 6m is for
The 6 meter band is a portion of the radio spectrum around 50 MHz allocated to amateur radio. What attracts hams to this unusual band? It is fascinating because just about all types of propagation pop up on 6m at one time or another: Sporadic E (Es), Tropospheric Ducting, Aurora, Meteors, even F2 skip like an HF band... they're all here. 6m is an acquired taste: a few hams work the band regularly, but many never work it at all. Once you acquire the taste, you tend to be hooked for life. The band has become more popular in recent years, thanks to several new 6m-capable radios.
There two types of 6m operators:
the ones who use FM or packet for local work, and ones
who work DX with SSB. (Some like me even do both!)
WHAT ARE THE MOST POPULAR FREQUENCIES?
Per the FCC, 50.0 to 50.1 is
reserved for CW work in the U.S. Most operation is SSB. 50.110 is
the most popular SSB DX frequency, and 50.100 to 50.124 should be
used only for DX. Some hams tend to discourage (or flame) U.S.
domestic stations from calling CQ in this "DX window".
The other popular frequencies tend to vary from area to area, so
the following is only a general guide for beginners: 50.125 is
the old U.S. domestic calling frequency, and most domestic SSB is
found between 50.125 and 50.200. The ARRL is encouraging hams to
use 50.200 as the new calling frequency. Only during hot F2
openings do you find SSB much above 50.200.
In Europe the domestic calling frequency is 50.150 MHz
I LISTEN TO 6M OCCASIONALLY, BUT I NEVER HEAR ANYONE.
Openings on 6m are rare,
especially during low points in the sunspot cycle. For hams in
far northern latitudes (say 50 degrees and above), aurora
openings are common. The most common openings in middle and
southern latitudes are a result of sporadic E (Es), which occurs
most often in June. F2 openings occur only when the solar flux is
high. The frequency where you are most likely to hear someone is
50.125 USB. An explanation of the many types of propagation on 6m
HOW OFTEN ARE THERE F2 OPENINGS?
F2 propagation, the kind that we
know and love on 20 meters, occurs rarely on 6m. Only at the peak
times of the sunspot cycle, a few years out of each eleven, does
the band open up for F2. When it does happen, the band becomes a
frenzy of activity, and behaves similar to 10 meters. In the last
cycle, there were many openings in 1989 through 1991, but that
cycle had an unusually long period of peak activity. Cycles
average 11 years, but the last peak happened only 8 years after
the previous one. Openings occur most often in December/January
during the daytime when the solar flux is at least above 150,
preferably 200. A few stations have worked 100 or more countries,
but they have been patiently working the fleeting openings for
many years. The March, 1993 QST magazine has an excellent article
on 6m propagation that shows a correlation between solar flux and
openings. The December 1997 issue of -QST- has a good article on
when to expect F2 openings now that the sunspot cycle is back on
the upswing. Start expecting peak sunspot conditions around in
the year 2000. To see if the MUF (maximum usable frequency) is
approaching 50 MHz, see the following real-time site: Solar MUFl
HOW IS TROPO PROPAGATION ON 6M?
The ordinary ground-wave
tropospheric ducting range on six isn't quite as great as on 2m.
There are a number of reasons. Since there are so many other
propagation modes on six, people don't try very hard on tropo.
Antenna gain often is higher on two. Noise is lower on two. At
least in the summer, stations like W3BWU (Pittsburgh), W3IDZ
(northern NJ) are easily worked from Maryland with the beam
pointing at them, and can be heard at almost any pointing.
WHAT ABOUT IONOSCATTER?
Some people think it's really
meteors, but every weekend morning there are a number of nearly-
kilowatt stations working each other on SSB at distances of about
600 - 1000 miles by ionospheric scatter. Sigs are weak, and it
takes good beams, height, and power, but it is very reliable. See
the old NBS papers by Bailey, Bateman and Kirby, et al. Bateman
and Kirby were/are hams. Ross Bateman recently died. Dick Kirby
continues as head of ITU in Geneva.
HOW IS AURORA?
It is much easier than on two.
SSB is usually intelligible, but CW is easier to work. Point
north about dusk, most commonly in March and October/November.
(In northern Europe, hams report Aurora peaks around dusk and
again around midnight.) Lots of people in the far northern
latitudes work this mode when it happens. Aurora can occur as far
south as the mid-U.S. during bad solar storms. The March, 1989
storm was so powerful that Aurora was visible in San Francisco
and power was knocked out all over Canada.
WHAT ABOUT SPORADIC E (Es)?
Es is the most common
propagation mode on 6m. The term "sporadic" is
accurate: stations can pop in and out and then fade quickly.
Studies (see March, 1993 -QST- Magazine) have shown that Es has
nothing to do with the sunspot cycle; it is much more a function
of the time of year. Es can occur anytime, but is most common
around the solstices (June 21 and December 21). In the southern
latitudes, the peak occurs around Christmas with a minor peak in
June. The northern latitudes find peak times in June and July
with a minor peak at Christmas. February is the low point, but
this year (1997), we even had a good opening then. In addition to
the common single-hop range of 500 - 1500 miles, there are quite
a few double- and-more hop contacts on 6m. Now that a number of
Europeans are on six, we find that they can be worked from the US
east coast each summer. Likewise the Caribbean stations work all
over the US. The US west coast can work Hawaii, Alaska, and
Mexico. You will also hear some hams on June DXPedition trips to
Mexico and the Caribbean; they are easy to work in the late
afternoon or early evening, even with 10W and a vertical. The VHF
contest in the middle of June is also a good time to work Es.
Within two weeks of the Winter and Summer Solstice (June 21 and December 21), you should be monitoring 50.200 as often as possible; this is the most common time and frequency for Es. I would also check 50.110, 28.885 MHz, and CW beacons between 50.00 and 50.100. 10 meters and the 27 MHz Citizen's Band are good indicators of 6m Es: If you hear Es on 10m and the stations are less than 1000 miles away, it's time to check for Es on 6m. If the stations on 10m are 500 miles away, you can be virtually certain that 6m is open. Likewise, a station on 6m from 500 miles away means Es on 2m is possible.
Thanks to KR5RR
SOME MAGIC BAND OPERATING TIPS
The VHF 6-metres is a DX band just like any other of the amateur radio high frequency VHF DX bands and it, along with other 6m operators, should be treated with respect and tolerance.
Always respect your local band plan. In Europe this is issued by the IARU and is attached as Addendum (1).
Do not cause nuisance and disturbance to other dedicated 6-meter local and overseas DX operators with local QSOs within the 50.100MHz to 50.130MHz DX Window. If you do wish to local rag-chew, it is recommended that you do this above 50.250MHz where interference will be minimised. Note: Please remember in Europe that French operators are not allowed below 50.200 so local QSOs held just above 50.200 could affect their ability to work DX.
True 6-meter DXers spend about 5% of their time transmitting while 95% of time is spent listening and observing changing band conditions and propagation modes. Learn to recognize propagation mode characteristics and when the band is likely to be showing signs of an opening. This will be far more effective than just calling CQ DX at random and ad infinitum.
50.130 The DX Window is widely accepted concept and should, in
principle, be used for INTER-CONTINENTAL DX QSOs only,
especially the 50.110 calling frequency as discussed below. The
definition of what constitutes a 'DX' station naturally lies with
an individual operator, especially when a particular station within
your own continent constitutes a new country! We would ask
you to think carefully before having any intra-European QSOs in
the DX window. For those of us in Europe, this is especially
important in periods of multiple-hop Es or F2
propagation to avoid burying inter-continental QSO opportunities
under a layer of European QRM.
PLEASE BE SENSIBLE and avoid local QSOs in the DX window if at all possible!
50.110 is the INTERNATIONAL CALLING FREQUENCY is
the international DX calling channel is 50.110MHz. This should be
used for long range DX contacts and such contacts should be
inter-continental (outside of your own continent) in nature. Do
not under any circumstances engage in local continental QSOs
on this frequency even for a minute or two. If a local station
returns to your CQ, move quickly to an unused frequency above
50.130MHz. Do not use the DX calling channel for testing or for
tuning up your radio/antenna.
Do not encourage pile-ups on 110. If you have a successful CQ ensure that you QSY elsewhere in the band.
The continental calling frequency in SSB is 50.150 MHz and is the SSB centre of activity (iaru)
My QSO's with USA on 50MHz with a homemade 3-element Yagi and only 10watt
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