Sixty Meters the new frontier?
Is the seemingly increasing
noise on 80 meters becoming tiresome? Or are you one of those many
people whom due to lack of antenna space that are forced to use 40
meters as the lowest part of the HF spectrum. Where even with the ‘new
allocation’ to 7.2 Mhz you still struggle to hold a QSO through the
deluge of extremely strong amateur station ‘Euro-babble’ and heterodynes
from adjacent broadcasting stations.A solution could be at hand. The
60meter band, where amateur stations issued with a Notice of Variation (NoV)
to their existing licence have access to seven spot frequencies. This is
primarily to conduct antenna experiments and collect propagation data in
this part of the spectrum!
If that sounds formidable don’t
worry, we collect data anyway in our normal method of operation. For
example the times, reports, and locations of contacts entered in our
logbooks covers 98% of what is required. A little modification of the
format is a very small price to pay for almost unique access to this
part of the spectrum. More of that later.
At this time there are very few
if any European amateurs with access to 5 Mhz. This results in little
amateur QRM and much quieter conditions. The length of a half wave
dipole is considerably shorter than that of one for 80 meters. And as
most contacts are ‘inter G’ using near vertical incidence of sky-wave (NVIS)
antennas do not have very high. An inverted ‘V’ configured dipole will
fit into a relatively small space.
The propagation appears to be at
its best during daylight and peaks in the early afternoon. The ‘skip
distance’ decreases the near midday, NVIS contacts of less than 50 Kms
are possible, as well as with stations up to 400 Kms. Ideal for inter-G
contacts. On some occasions around the zenith the longer skip distances
seem to suffer from poorer propagation in favour of the relatively short
ones. The nearer the times of darkness (both dawn and dusk) the skip
becomes longer so that eventually all inter G contacts are lost and only
distant signals and QRN are received.
The allocated frequencies are
5.2585 Mhz, 5.2785 Mhz, 5.2885 Mhz, 5.3665 Mhz, 5.3715 Mhz, 5.3985 Mhz,
and 5.4035 Mhz, voice communications on the band are in USB.
As a guide to propagation there
are three beacons on 5.2885 Mhz. that transmit on the quarter of the
hour GB3RAL from near Oxford, GB3ORK from Orkney and GB3WES from
Part of the protocol on the
band is that stations give their Maidenhead Locator (e.g. JO02AB) and a
slightly more objective ’SINPO’ signal-reporting system is used. The ‘S’
for signal strength, the ‘I’ for interference, the ‘N’ for noise, the
‘P’ for propagation disturbances (fading), the ‘O’ for overall quality.
This requires a longer period of listening rather than the quick glance
at the ‘S’ meter. Readability and signal strength are often given in
conjunction with the SINPO system. Old habits die-hard! (Example
The maximum permitted power on
the band is 23dBW (200W), many stations can be heard using much lower
outputs yet maintaining excellent contacts with ease.
Will your radio work on 5 Mhz?
Most, if not all the amateur transceivers built in the last ten years
have the capability of being modified to transmit on this part of the
spectrum. Some only need a ‘menu driven’ change, whilst others require a
judicious work with a soldering iron to remove one or two components. I
suggest a glance at
www.mods.dk. to see if your radio is featured, or contact your
dealer who should be able to carry out the work.
To obtain a NoV for 5 Mhz you
simply download an application form from the Ofcom web site
complete it and send it to Ofcom with a photocopy of your current
Amateur Radio Validation Document.
Bare in mind that when you
complete the application form, the primary reason of the application is
to enable you to collect data on propagation and experimentation into
antennas for the band as a part of the self-training aspect of your
The primary user of these
frequencies in the UK is the MoD, they are permitting the radio amateur
fraternity access, and as such we are expected to be aware of other
users and maintain good procedural discipline. Further information on
operating on 5Mhz is available from the RSGB on
We hope we have whetted your
appetite, good operating practices and slightly more comprehensive log
keeping is a very small price to pay for access to this very unique and
We have had 5Mhz QSOs with
Clifton Country Club members Peter (G3PJB), Clive (GW0PPO), Ayesha
(G7LMP) and regular skeds with Keith (G4TJE).
At the present moment regular skeds between myself
and Keith G4TJE have been planned for Sundays
at 10.30am on 5.258.50mhz primary channel or 5278.50mhz secondary
channel. If you hear us on and you have a NoV then give us a call.
So will we to hear you on ‘5’
soon? We do hope so!
73s fer nw de Tony (G0HUZ) es