About the 50 MHz band…

The Six Metre band has been a VHF favourite for many years, and quite rightly so. Sometimes referred to as the “Magic Band” it is certainly a band where there is a vast array of propagation modes available, it really is a band where there is always something happening and sometimes not always very predictable!

Lying just above the top of the HF spectrum it still retains some of its HF neighbor characteristics. At the peak of the sunspot cycle this band can still support worldwide communications on F2 with some spectacular results. F2 openings in sunspot maximums can lead to day long opening on 6M with QSOs being made across the globe. However, even outside of sunspot max this band has lots to offer the VHF’r.Karcich_20101107_1871

All the normal favourites are here too. Meteor scatter, Aurora, Sporadic E, Auroral E all are regular visitors to the band. Tropo is very capable here too, but it is the more unusual modes that turn on the “magic”. Modes such as Trans Equatorial Propagation (TEP) and Ionoscatter, are some of the exciting challenges that 6M offers.

EME has also become a growth mode on 50 MHz. With the introduction of modern computer generated digital modulation methods such as JT65 and the use of DSP recovery of signals, this has significantly lower the requirements for EME on 6M, that, combined with modern optimized Yagi designs has lead to a whole new generation of highly capable EME stations. This has peaked the interest of a number of major DXpeditions who have actively sought 50 MHz EME contacts.

And it’s never been easier to get active on 6M as almost all modern HF radios have 6M installed as standard, normally at 100W output, a far cry from when the band became available in the early 1980s for many.

Some countries still do not have full access due to the use of the band for TV transmissions. However many of these remaining countries are in the process of switching over to digital UHF or satellite services and the band will open to more countries over the next 3-5 years.