Sunday, April 29, 2012

6 metre beam installed - just in time for the first opening!

On Saturday I finally upgraded my 6 metre (50 Mhz) antenna. I have been using a simple aluminium dipole since the sunmer of 2010. It has served me well, giving me 54 DXCCs over two seasons. But I have been hungry for something with a little more gain so that I might notch up some new DXCCs this year. So when I chanced upon a three-element beam for 50 Mhz I snapped it up! Tony EI4DIB and Jim EI2HJB, who have been involved in so many antenna installations at my QTH, made themselves available on Saturday afternoon and we set to work. It was cold and windy but sunny. So typical Irish weather !

Tony EI4DIB and Jim EI2HJB installing the 3-element 6 metre beam
This was not a complicated installation in that we were swapping out a 6m dipole with a beam, so we could use the same coax. We were also swapping my 4m folded dipole for a 4m dipole made from my recycled 6m dipole shortened down. Tony and Jim managed to get the SWR of the beam between 1.5-2 so that was fine. It is under the 2m XY beam on the same rotator. I am now well set up for VHF activities!

This afternoon, Sunday, the 6 metre band opened for the first real Sporadic E opening of the year. Very timely too! I put the beam through its paces. I worked a number of stations in Poland and Lithuania and Latvia. Some of the signals were very strong indeed. I was delighted. Below is a video of me working SP3OCC, Ted in Poland, on SSB. I had just worked him on CW. He was 10dB over 9 at times. Very strong.

Below are maps from DX Sherlock showing just how active the band was today. It really opened up for a while in Europe, although the openings to EI were limited along a narrow path to Poland and the Baltic area.
6 metres open in Europe, with my first QSO mapped
Activity was intense for a time on 50 Mhz
This was an unexpected opening, especially such a big one. My first QSO of the E season in 2011 was on May 1st, so we are just a few days short of that date and the band has opened properly for the first time. While 50 Mhz was active last summer there wasn't so much DX to be worked so we are hoping that this year there will be some new countries floating around. And with the three-element beam now instead of the dipole, here's one op who's chomping at the bit for some extra DXCCs! Happy DXing . . .

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