There’s been considerable buzz about FT8 activity on Six Meters since it became available and I would have gotten in on some of that except I have no antenna for 50Mhz. So this weekend I put together a dipole for the Magic Band and got it installed late in the day yesterday.
It was getting dark by the time I popped into the shack to see how it would load. The auto-tuner seemed happy enough but the band was completely closed just when I was ready to roll.
Still, I decided to let FT8 run a few auto CQ’s to make certain I’d be ready to go the next time the band was open. The software dutifully ran through about a dozen CQ’s and then went silent. There were no replies and nothing at all observed in the received signal window.
Six Meters was really DEAD.
An hour or so later I wondered if my CQ’s might have been detected by any spotters. Checking, I was surprised to see two stations reported my signals. Both were in the region, one was only 40 miles away but the other was 90 miles to the West.
Hmmm. I have a buddy in Cincinnati which is just about that same distance as the crow flies. I dropped him an email to see if he was interested in trying to make contact on Six using FT8. His first reply came quick, “not a chance we could make it, the band is dead”.
But a minute or two later he sent me another email that said, “I’m there now, let’s try.”
His CQ popped up in my received window almost instantly and after exchanging the standard details we both logged the contact. Then for grins we decided to try it using JT65 and once again, instant contact.
There’s no real “magic” in this other than it proves the efficacy of the weak signals modes.
It also serves as notice that ground wave communication can be extended considerably using these new modes. Hams have used 50Mhz for local communications for decades. But your opinion of “local” might be expanding. You never know until you try but your next “new” grid on Six Meters might just be within a 100 miles of your home QTH.