6m activating during the June 12m, 10m & 6m SOTA Challenge week

I am normally operating (when allowed - and my commiserations to frustrated colleagues in GW/GM/GI and esewhere) on mostly smaller hills on 2m fm and 70cm fm with my trusty VX-7R. When the SOTA Challenge for 2020 was announced I thought I would have a go with my mighty 5w power but discovered that 2m had been ignored and even the rather obscure 70cm had only been allocated for one month (July - watch this space) rather than 2 slots for most other bands. MT please rectify this next time!! Peering more closely at the list I saw that 6m was down for both June and December (I think I shall be concentrating on the winter bonus then - especially with the weather in Feb/March…) and I knew that my handy could also offer that band - altho’ my previous attempts had been completely unrewarded.

Hence much consultation with M0JLA (and repeated attempts to practice hillwalking on a nearby slope during lockdown for fitness) we celebrated the first stage of lockdown lifting by activating lonely Shobdon Hill G/WB-017 (13 May) and then it was time to grab the fishing pole, 2 VX-7s, 6m whip aerial and vertical J pole and stagger up Bredon Hill (G/CE-003) which was more popular but we knew we could ‘self-isolate’ on the scarp side of the stone wall. This was true but did mean we got a high number of queries from those strolling past - at a safe distance. After two quick S2S with G4TQE (WB-007) and M6NSV (WB-006) on 2m (and TQE on 70cm - many thanks) which were a surprise bonus, I had to cut the 2m queue short at 12 contacts, get my 4 on 70cm and then start the much advertised attempt at 6m fm by calling on 51.51 and QSYing to 51.53. I had checked with most of my contacts to see if they would be able to listen out and, to my surprise (I have no experience of this band) the vast majority said they would come and look for me.

I then confidently screwed on the long whip aerial to the VX-7 on the 6m band and started calling and calling and… No reply of any sort. I then realised that, by hiding behind the wall I wasn’t at the top of the hill so picked up the 2 radios, pencil and log and walked up to the toposcope where I sat and had another go. Thanks to 2E0MDJ Matt in Cheltenham, who I was talking to on 70 cm, I eventually heard him on 6m but he couldn’t hear me! The lazy way wasn’t working and I would have to go back to behind the wall and erect a fishing pole in the blustery wind.

Eventually the 5m fishing pole was up with the J pole attached but it wasn’t exactly happy as it looked as if I’d caught a big fish!

With fingers crossed that the pole wouldn’t break under the strain I then tried calling on 51.51 - but this was 40 mins after I had left 70cm so most of my potential chasers had disappeared but I was delighted to have a contact with G0LGS Stewart on 51.53 and with 7 other people (including G6WRW Carolyn in Kidderminster and M7APJ Will in Stratford who had only had his call sign for 2 weeks but had already talked to Russia!) This was then obviously a great success by my standards (and more than doubled the no of 6m contacts from this hill, I later discovered) and I had learnt that I needed a mast and J-pole and the fishing pole wasn’t heavy enough!

Meanwhile the end of May was getting closer and the weather was getting hotter (and more people were getting out and about) but we decided we could sensibly have one more try on a largeish summit so went to Garway Hill G/WB-013 (21 May) and found a different parking place and lonely ascent to the brick building on the top and the model aircraft flyers. While M0JLA disappeared back down the slope with his HF kit I realised that I needed to be more prominent as I was hoping to qualify on 2m and 70cm before embarking on 6m again. Having learnt from last time I used the ‘tactical mini’ mast (only 5.9m but it seemed a lot higher as the top section was thicker and didn’t bend) for the first time and erected both it and my usual dipole before starting to call which took me quite a long time.

By 1050 I was calling on 2m and 35 mins later I had 6 on each of 2m and 70cm and had advertised my 6m attempts. Thanks to this my 6m activation harvested 5 contacts in 8 minutes - all but one who had spoken to me already - and then the band went quiet and no more could I raise. However the hill had been qualified on all 3 bands (and the no of recorded 6m contacts increased from 2 to 7!) so after a quick chat with M7TPE who had gained his call sign 3 days earlier, via on-line teaching, and wanted to try it out on both 2m and 70cm I closed down and started the packing up.

Now the time is coming to try the Challenge so we are alerted on Monday 1 June on the very small local Seager Hill G/WB-022 at 0830 (1 x 6m contact so far) and Hegdon Hill G/WB-023 (10 x 6m contacts! Gosh, probably because it is a roadside summit) at 1715 with the hopes that we miss the hottest part of the day and have time to rectify what went wrong in the morning! M0JLA will be operating on 12m and (possibly) 10m with 60m as well. He has plans to activate further summits every day this week (weather permitting - we are supposed to be getting - desparately needed - rain on Wednesday but time will tell) and I shall certainly hope to accompany him when possible but I have a feeling I shall find it difficult to find any contacts on 6m fm on these small hills - some of which are wooded. They are often not easily qualified even on 2m so I will need luck - and a lot of help from chasers. Hope to talk to you soon!

Viki M6BWA


The normal (2/70) rubber duck on the VX7 seems to work better on 51MHz than using that 6m attachment.

Gosh I hadn’t thought of that. Wonder where mine is?? Tx



Challenges are there to increase useage of less popular bands

There is no need for a 2m challenge, it is the third most used band for SOTA. It is arguable that no challenge is needed for 70cm, it is the 6th most used band - indeed the was a lot of MT discussion about this! Personally I would favour making it a 70cm SSB, CW and data challenge because nearly all 70cm use is with FH handies! When we go to 12, 10 and 6m, they are in that order the 9th, 11th and 13th on the list. However, whilst F2 propagation on 6m is a distant memory, 12m and 10m got a lot more use nearer sunspot maximum. At this time if the bands aren’t just silent any DX contacts are more likely to be by sporadic E, when all of Europe and possibly even transatlantic QSOs might be possible for you in a good opening. Bearing in mind that sporadic E is mainly a summer phenomenon (weak midwinter openings can happen occasionally) the December challenge is mainly for the benefit of southern hemisphere hams.

Last time I was /P on 6m (not from a SOTA summit unfortunately!) my 5 watts SSB from the 817 netted me about a dozen European countries. On that occasion I worked into Germany, Greece and the Balkans at first, then the activity died out and after a silent pause the band opened to Spain and Portugal. Transatlantic openings seem to happen mostly in the evening, and probably need a lot more power.

70cm FM is still deathly quiet though Brian. In any case, one of the principles we settled on, and is serving us well, is that we nominate a band - or a mode - but not a combination of band and mode. This gives activators plenty of scope to find and stimulate activity, and diversify their operating.

A good summary though of the rationale behind the Challenge. I totally agree, a 2m Challenge would be pointless. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens on 12/10/6 this week after having to miss the last two months’ flavours due to lockdown.

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It certainly seems that way, although the database shows it to be the sixth most used band with 106,873 QSOs. To put it in context, that figure is a mere 1.8% of the grand total of contacts, an eye-watering 5,876,119!

Indeed, for now, but it is not necessarily a principle that should be allowed to shackle us forever.

12 and 10 have seen a bit of activity the last few days. If conditions remain interesting in the week to come… :wink:

I’ve just alerted for Monday 1st with an easy one to start with - View Edge G/WB-018. Not much walking involved, but it’s a start! I don’t enjoy being out in the heat…
I intend to try a few more during the week, though I won’t venture very far in these early stages of freedom.

Yesterday, I built and tested an elevated grounplane in the garden, and managed a few 10m QSOs with it and the ft817 this morning - it also works on 12m and 6m.
My SOTA stuff has been removed from the rucksack and packed away for the last few weeks, so I’ll spend a bit of time today remembering what I need to take with me :o)


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In my considered opinion, you are more likely to find random uwave QSOs than 6m FM QSOs. So many people have 6m facilities and the vast majority never use FM on the band prefering DXmodes such as SSB,CW, meteor scatter and now FT8. What I expect next week is a lot more people will be watching and maybe even listening 51.500 for people like you with a 6m handy.

Most of the supplied rubber ducks for 6m are fairly dire in performance so there’s lots of room for improvement with simple homebrew antennas. Once there’s Es about, a sniff of RF goes a long way but again, most people will be down around 50.150 SSB/CW etc. I did work OZ on 6m FM random once so you maybe surprised.

Another thought………….are those chasing you on 6m FM horizontal or vertical?
The one and only time I have used 6m on my H/H contacts were much more improved by holding the radio so the aerial was horizontal, and rotating to get best signal.
(IC-T81E & SR999 aerial)

On 70cm you don’t realise that I am responsible for all those 106,000 qso (or nearly!) but there aren’t too many others using it - except kind local activators who humour me. Time to wave the flag a bit more for that band.


Thanks for the comments but I think I shall be calling on 51.51 rather than 51.500 - please correct me if I’m wrong. However, if no-one is listening it doesn’t make too much difference!!

For local work I imagine that some, perhaps many people use a three band white stick - I have one somewhere myself - so that will be vertical. For DX it doesn’t matter as polarisation gets changed in the E layer. There used to be an unofficial slot for FM DX at about 50.250, I don’t know if that is still used, but if it is it would probably be horizontal.

Guilty, if the band is doing anything interesting I will only go to FM if a spot appears! If the band is doing anything VERY interesting I won’t even be looking at the spots!

Just as illustration, right now I have 9A2PT on 50.170 peaking at S9. Not a target for a HH, but a dipole to an 817 would probably snag him.

Precisely why it got a Flavour slot in the 2020 Challenge.

51MHz FM got a bit of a boost in 2018 when the RSGB VHF activity contest programme included a 6m FMAC. That inspired me to build a quarter-wave GP centred on 51MHz. The fact that the 6m extension to the rubber duck in the VX7 is worse than leaving the standard 2/70 RD installed is a measure of just how poor that option was.

Anyway, with it being a GP made out of SOTAbeams extra strength military spec green wire - nice and thick - the bandwidth is wide - wider than I expected anyway! I found to my surprise that it was absolutely fine on 50.313 FT8. And on 50.200 SSB. And even on 50.090 CW!! So there’s my quick and easy 6m antenna option for this coming week, but if I get chance for a focused 6m activation, I’ll still use the SB6 (Moxon).

This morning I made QSOs NP on both 10m and 12m from the same (untuned) GP antenna that is actually resonant around the 11m CB frequencies!

Tip for getting QSOs on 6m FM: do some “kite-flying” for it on your 2m QSOs. Plenty of people have the facility, but just don’t use it, citing lack of activity. If you persuade someone to QSY to 51MHz with you, you might well find 2 or 3 more stations queuing up to work you afterwards.

6m SSB on a HH? Vintage equipment?

That was the point, an FM handheld would be no good for that station!

I actually have a quarter wave telescopic whip for 6m so I could use the 817 as a HH, probably best with a counterpoise to the earth post on the back.

Mizuho did a 6m SSB handhel, the MX6S

And back in the golden days of the late 60’s / early 70’s most of the Japanese manufacturers made 6m AM portable sets.

Here’s an 1971 Trio TR1200 AM/FM 1W portable for 6m.



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Even with the latest extension to the frequencies (now 50-52MHz) and power level in the lower part of the band (750w) since May 6th, portable operation is still illegal on 6 metres in Germany (as is operation on vertical polarisation), so the challenge is only interesting from an SSB chasing point of view not activating here. I do have my 6/4/2m beam up at about 8m AGL here at home (650m ASL) and 6m has been quite good over the last week, so perhaps I’ll hear you right down here in Southern Germany, if you are able to operate SSB as well as FM Viki?

73 Ed.

The title of this thread was misleading people into thinking only 6m was viable for the challenge. I have adjusted it to more accurately reflect Viki’s plans and to remind people that 12 and 10 are equally as viable.