Sunday, June 6, 2021

A century worked on 50 Mhz (6 metres)

I don't blog about ham radio nearly as often as I would like to, but that's because I'm exceptionally busy with work and other writing projects. I have published two books so far in 2021 and am currently 90% through writing a third, which will hopefully be published in the next month or so.

I haven't been neglecting radio though, and have been QRV regularly. This being the summer season (with its attendant sporadic E propagation!), I recently decided to remove the wrecked hexbeam from the pole and put my three-element 50Mhz yagi up in its place. The hexbeam was wrecked in a storm a couple of years ago and due to radio inactivity and being busy with many other projects, I did not do anything about it.

However, when some of my local DXing friends were reporting good DX openings on 6 metres, I could not resist putting the yagi up to try to capture some action.

My total reach on 6 metres on Thursday 3rd June 2021, a memorable day on the band.

At the beginning of the 2021 6m season, I had 96 DXCC worked on 50Mhz and 89 confirmed.

I am glad to report that, thanks to a couple of really great openings during the past week, I now have 100 DXCC worked and 90 confirmed.

Thursday was a big day. After a slow start in the morning time, with few signals being decoded on FT8, the band opened up to the Middle East. At 11.23am local time (10.23UTC), I logged 9K2OW. I didn't immediately realise it, but I had 9K (Kuwait) worked and confirmed on 6 metres. But this was only the beginning of what turned out to be one of the most enjoyable radio days I've had since being licenced in October 2009.

Soon, I had A61DD from the United Arab Emirates in the log for a brand new DXCC on 6m, number #97. That was followed with another A6 QSO with A65BR, both later confirming via Logbook of the World.

I logged 9K2NO, the second Kuwaiti contact on the band. At that point, around 2pm or so in the afternoon, the band closed to the Middle East but there was still lots of propagation to Europe, before eventually some trans-Atlantic propagation began to appear.

I worked PV8DX in Brazil at 5.34pm local and at that stage had only the slightest hope of some action into the Caribbean. Soon I had HI8RD (Dominican Republic) in the log, and what followed was a fantastic evening of DX on the "Magic Band".

My three-element yagi on 6m has helped me get 100 DXCC on the band.

I logged no fewer than EIGHT Dominican Republic stations - HI8RD, HI3T, HI8T, HI8DL, HI3AA, HI8S, HI8PAP and HI8GSP. I also logged CU2AP in the Azores, who later confirmed the QSO on LoTW and although I had CU worked on 6m before, I had no confirmation, so it was a new one confirmed. I also worked CU3AC on 50.152Mhz using SSB – a rare mode for me these days!

Unbelievably, there were still reports from EI and UK of openings to the Middle East, so I swung the beam back and forth between west and east, and on the latter I soon bagged HZ1SK in Saudi Arabia, another new DXCC on 6m, no. #98!

Back looking/listening west, I logged WP4G in Puerto Rico (not a new one) and soon W4AS gave me my first North American QSO on 6m in 2021.

ZF1EJ in the Cayman Islands was worked, which was a nice one to get, although I had previously logged him in 2018 and the QSO was confirmed on LoTW. Several EI friends were decoding HC Ecuador and even HK Colombia. Could it be possible, I wondered?

Soon HC1BI was in the log, my first Ecuador and DXCC no. #99 on 6 metres. I was thrilled. Shortly thereafter I logged PJ4KY in Bonaire, and while not a new one it was a nice QSO anyway.

K0BZ was working from KP2 (US Virgin Islands) and I was getting occasional decodes of him on and off all evening, but eventually, with patience and perseverance, I logged him at 11.02pm local time. It was not a new DXCC but still a nice contact.

HC1HC gave me my second Ecuadorian DX of the day at 11.23pm and, after a few more contacts into both EU and NA, the band eventually faded.

Friday was another busy day on the band, but no Middle East this time, only EU. Later in the day the band opened to the USA and Canada and I bagged a heap of DX calls from eastern USA and Canada and some new squares.

Although Saturday (yesterday) was a quiet one on the band, there was a small opening in the evening time towards the Caribbean, and that's when history was made!

A screenshot of my historic QSO with my 100th DXCC entity on 6m with P43A.

I worked WP3R in Puerto Rico on FT8 and knew that I might have a chance with P43A in Aruba, who was active on the band and worked by some fellow EI ops. At 9.03pm local, I eventually got a QSO with P43A, giving me my 100th DXCC entity worked on 6 metres!

It has taken a long time to get to 100 entities worked. But there are many reasons for this. I first began 6m activity in summer 2010. For several years I used just a fixed aluminium dipole. Eventually I got the 3el yagi on a rotator but after just one season a storm broke the rotator and stub pole, so I was back to the dipole until a few years ago I got a six-band two-element hexbeam. That was also wrecked after just a couple of seasons in use, so I am now back to the 3el yagi again. 

All things considered, it's not bad. In order to take VHF seriously, I think one needs to focus on good antennas. It would have helped a lot if I had a 5el or 7el yagi on the band, but space, time and money are all considerations.

Now that I have 100 DXCC worked on 6m, the hope is to (a) work more DXCC and (b) get from 90 confirmed to 100 confirmed. To that end, I am making inquiries about acquiring a five-element yagi. I will keep you posted!

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