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How about 60 metres for the next challenge? [MT please close thread]


#1

Given the fact that several countries have received access to 60 metres in the last few weeks and more will obtain that access at the start of 2017 and as we go further down into the solar minimum the MF bands will have greater importance, I would like to suggest that the MT consider the 60 metre band for the next SOTA challenge. Activations on the 60 metre band would improve the knowledge of propagation on the band, especially if all taking part stayed at or below the 15w EIRP WRC15 standard power level, while making SOTA contacts on 60m.

It is clear that many countries do not yet have 60 metres and so are excluded. Perhaps a similar approach could be taken as with the 10m / 6 metre challenge where those without the legal rights to operate on 6 metres (or not portable on that band) concentrated on 10 metres and entered just that part of the challenge.

So perhaps an 80 metre + 60 metre challenge would be feasible?

Ed DD5LP.


#2

I like the idea of both a 60m and 80m challenge and would participate. The US amateur 60m band has a restriction of five specific frequencies; it’s channelized. There’d be no activation on 60m if those frequencies were all in use when an activator was ready to operate. Part of the challenge I suppose.

Kevin AC2KL


#3

This has been considered.

There are serious problems with a 60 metre challenge: as you point out, many countries have no access to the band, across the countries that do have access there are a plethora of channels and bandlets such that there are no frequencies that are available to all. Furthermore in some countries (including the UK) access is governed by licence class.

When the WRC15 allocation is more widely enacted by the various administrations then the idea of a challenge will be more feasible.

The idea of an 80 metre (and 160 metre challenge) is under consideration.

Brian


#4

Wow, are there really no concerns regarding:

  • 60m allocation is on a secondary basis only

  • ITU:
    It is strongly recommended that frequencies within the WRC-15 allocation only be used if there are no other frequencies available at 5 MHz under domestic (ITU-R article 4.4) permissions.

  • ITU:
    Local nets and long rag chew QSOs should not use the WRC-15 allocation at 5 MHz but should instead make use of the 3,5 MHz, 5 MHz domestic or 7 MHz bands where there is more spectrum available.


#5

Hi Brian,
Let me point out that, this was also the case with the 6 metre challenge. For example in Australia, the Foundation licence holders have no access to 6 metres and even the Standard Licence holders only have access to part of the band. In many countries 6 metres is allocated on a secondary basis.

I realise there are logistical issues between WRC15 conformant countries and those who had different allocations previously. Within Europe however there is an overlap. No one said a challenge should be easy did they?

I can’t see a 160 metre challenge being practical given the size of antenna required, so a 80 / 160m challenge seems to exclude more people that a 60m one would include - I would see an 80/60m being more practical from the point of view of antenna needs. Then again, perhaps VHF/UHF/SHF need some support and a challenge there may be a good idea.

73 Ed.


#6

It’s a non-starter Ed for the reasons given.


#7

Hi Heinz,
There are only a limited number of countries with existing 5MHz allocations (most of which are incompatible with each other), whereas the number of countries with the WRC15 allocation is slowly growing.

I believe only by using the band and proving it is a). too narrow and b). has different propagation than either 40 or 80m can we hope to have extensions to it considered.

Ed.


#8

No, I don’t think those should be of concern, Heinz.

If the primary users need a channel they will let us know.

The recommendation by the ITU ignores the lack of co-ordination between domestic allocations and surely only applies to inter-domestic activities since it would stultify use of 5 megs for longer range activities.

It is uncommon for an activation on 5 megs to last as much as half an hour, activators tend to run out of callers fairly quickly due to limited daytime range and limited numbers of chasers, and in any case will be wanting to use other bands, too.

In my book an activation is neither a local net or a long rag chew but is a short low power low impact event characterised by brief contacts which may or may not be with higher powered stations. In fact, nearly all of the 279 chases that I have made successfully on 5 megs so far this year were made with 5 watts to a sub-optimum antenna, and the great majority of the activators that I contacted were using 5 or 2.5 watts to an FT817. Activations tend to be short bursts of activity on an often somewhat somnulant band, not much given to net activity since the experimental phase came to an end with the end of the discrete channels.

Brian


#9

I think those days are getting behind us now, sadly. Even QRO is proving challenging which I and others are almost using constantly to battle worsening conditions. 80m was terrible last weekend, I was putting 160W into the aerial and some of you were giving me an S7 mid-afternoon !
Yet conversely 17m was working reasonably well.

Its a nice idea Ed, buts its fatefully flawed.


#10

When I first discovered ham radio in the 1950’s Top Band was the band of choice for mobile operation, using mostly centre-loaded whip antennas and resticted in this country to a maximum of 10 watts of carrier power, mostly AM or sometimes CW(!) and even though such antennas had an efficiency of no more than a few percent of efficiency quite remarkable ranges could be achieved. The idea that a full length half-wave dipole is needed for SOTA on Top Band has been disproved by a number of operators using either loading coils or shorter doublets, look for instance at the ingenius loading coils used by G4YSS in his multi-band dipole which has successfully qualified a number of activations. Regard the need for a shortened antenna as part of the challenge…and the challenge being currently considered for both 80 and 160 during sunspot minimum will, I’m sure, show people that these bands can be used intelligently with success for SOTA.

Brian


#11

It was the military band of choice due to its known propagation characteristics. Likewise, it’s been in use by amateurs for in excess of 10 years, specifically in the UK used for propagation experiments. We too know how it works. The 15kcs allocation is because those who “own” it know of it’s usefulness. The fact we have such an excellent allocation at higher powers here in the UK is a damn fine reason to keep what we have and no go demanding alignment with other countries. The UK military will let amateurs play in it because it renders it less desirable to others and they can always get it back from us by rescinding permission for us to use it.


#12

I have used 5 megs since early 2005, IOW through a complete sunspot cycle. There have been times - mostly in mid summer or mid winter - when the band has been difficult, but mostly it has been an excellent performer for SOTA on days when neither 80 metres or 40 metres were co-operating. 80 might have been terrible for you on that day, but every ham should know its characteristics, and it has never been a reliable band during the middle part of the day. Near sunrise and sunset it can surprise QRP operators even if it has been dead for much of the daylight hours! And after all, challenges are not challenges if they are too easy!:grinning:

Brian


#13

Time to draw this to a close…


#14

No, Andy, the MT should and does listen to suggestions and concerns from participants even if for our reasons these suggestions and concerns are not then acted upon. Closing a discussion might stultify the give and take between management and participants which I think is a healthy characteristic of SOTA. I will close the discussion only if it becomes rowdy!

Brian


#15

I know why 80m was bad Brian, Ive had plenty of years listening to it to know its moods.

It’s a challenge yes, but its more likely to invoke the question in an activators mind as to “why bother” with difficult, unpredictable lower frequency bands…

Challenges are only with perusing with a level of interest, otherwise you may as well be doing better things with your own time. Just somewhat frustrated with the way it is at the moment.


#16

Yep. This is one of the reasons that I personally favour a challenge that is not defined by a particular part of the spectrum, but that could be participated in on all the main HF/VHF bands. A greater variety of bands utilised should bring about a higher score, so participants would be best advised not to neglect main areas of the spectrum.


#17

I will be interested to see how loaded top band whips work in todays conditions. Again, this could be a good reason to indeed have a top band SOTA challenge to see what we can develop that is both practical for transport and installation as well as working for contacts.

73 Ed.


#18

I quite agree, Ed, and have been quietly advocating a Top Band challenge for some time now. It would be interesting to see whether a loaded whip or a loaded flat top works better, and it could lead to more night time operation from easier summits, too.


#19

No Brian, the MT has listened to the suggestion and explained why 60m is not viable. At this point this topic done. If people wish to discuss suggestions for a challenge, the title is wrong and not describing what really is going on.

I’m with Tom now in that single band challenges are not floating my boat. Should we all be around when (if) there is another sunspot peak then another 12m challenge would be a runner. Till then I’d rather see things along the lines of specific challenges. Most amateur radio consists of spraying RF over the aether and seeing what happens. Anyone can do that. What strikes me as more interesting is suggesting a QSO requirement, say 7500miles on 30m (or some challenge distance) and having to repeat that a number of times in some fixed period. People would need to maybe arrange other activators/chasers to be prepared. That takes away the random “spray RF” out of the equation and also get people working in teams. But, I don’t do any chasing so my ideas are always from an activator view and may not be interesting to non-activators.


#20

The first thing that strikes me about that, Andy, is that distance requirements are at the mercy of both solar “weather” and urban noise. Since you are a non-chaser I wonder if you do much operating at all from home? How is your local noise? Do you have to cope with S7 on 20m, S8 on 40 and 60, S9 on 80? For urban dwellers the noise environment is becoming steadily more toxic and chasing the weaker activations is becoming more and more difficult. When I started chasing on HF 20m was nearly as quiet as 2m and I could chase stations that would now be totally lost in noise. The sort of challenge that you are advocating would only float the boat of chasers with quiet QTH’s in the country - and only then if there are no nearby electric fences!

A challenge should not be dependent on special conditions only available to a small minority, if we go that route then only a small “elite” will respond, and the challenge will go the way of the late microwave challenge. We need challenges that will be possible for all to participate in, the noise-challenged as well as the fortunate noise-free chasers. Long distances imply weak signals, weak signals get lost in noise, and I for one have never heard an activation from VK or ZL though I have heard chasers calling them.

If you must have specific challenges, make sure that they are the sort of challenges that the majority can participate in. Don’t limit them to the more fortunately placed participants, because if you do then they may well perish from inertia!