5 MHz operation is increasing as more amateurs equip their stations for this new band. Finland recently joined USA and UK with regular amateur activity on the 60 meter band. Club stations OI3W and OI3AY made the first amateur Finnish 5MHz contact on 27 January 2004. Welcome to the Rock Band, Finland! 60 Meter Propagation When USA first got the band in July 2003, I dubbed it The Rock Band because of the channelization. After operating almost daily since it opened, I have also found that rock-solid dependable propagation is one of the hallmarks of 5 MHz. At any rate, the term has caught on amongst 60m ops. Propagation with 50 Watts and a dipole on the band is good for 30 to 200 mile range during midday, 1000 miles in morning and evening, with DX 2000+ miles possible during late night and before sunrise. Calling Channel 403 The majority of activity in USA starts on Channel 403 (5403.5kHz USB), which has become the common "calling channel" for operators who are chasing DX, awards, Worked All States, or just looking for a contact. Using CH-403 is like 146.52 MHz simplex on a grand scale! CH-403 has become so popular because it is the only USA and UK common channel. Even with the low power and antenna requirements of the band, it is usually pretty easy to make a contact in USA on CH-403, by simply saying your callsign and location once or twice. Almost like a repeater, it can get pretty busy during evening hours. Hook up with another station, make a quick contact, or hop over to one of the general purpose channels like 346 or 366 for more of a QSO. Nets A few nets and groups are active in USA on the 60meter channels. Several state and regional ARES and Emergency Nets are in operation either regularly or on an as-needed basis on the various channels. Some emergency organizations are starting to plan for adding 5MHz to their mix of HF frequencies. HFpack, The HF Portable Group, maintains evening and weekend skeds, and a network of Echolink HF base stations in North America on Channel 371 (5371.5kHz) at 0145 UTC. HFpack operators give priority to HF portable and mobile stations. Everyone is welcome to participate, base or mobile. In the event of an emergency, the HFpack net is activated on CH-371. Unusual Operating Experience Operating on 60 meters is a different experience from working SSB on most other HF bands. Courtesy and friendship prevails... a lot of operators know each other similar to the way your local club repeater might be. Adjacent frequency QRM is very rare. On the other hand, USA regulations require us hams to yield the channels to "primary users" (government stations). There has been at least one report of a government USB voice station making a general announcement for amateurs to yield a channel. But, government stations are most often heard in short intervals using various types of data and ALE (Automatic Link Establishment) emissions that sound a lot like turkey-gobbling. So, most considerate hams on the band utilize short, rapid transmissions, a bare minimum of CQ calling, and tend to avoid longwinded ragchews. That way we can all hear when a primary user is on, and either QSY to another channel, or just wait a few minutes until they complete their transmissions. Keep in mind that the 60 meter band was originally justified for amateur use to help fill in the propagation gap between 80 meters and 40 meters for emergency net operations. Some regional differences in activity patterns are starting to show up. Eastern USA stations seem to tend more toward casual conversational and DXing style contacts. Western USA stations tend to use 5MHz for mobile-to-base and mobile-to-mobile communications to keep in touch out in the boonies and wilderness, where there is less VHF/UHF repeater coverage. In the Rocky Mountains area, Sierras, Southwest, and Northwest, 60 meters NVIS is like the "repeater in the sky". WORLDWIDE 5MHz CHANNEL FREQUENCIES FEB 2004 CH. NICKNAME = DIAL FREQ = LOCATION = REMARKS Channel 167 = 5167.5 USB (Alaska)[Emergency] Channel 194 = 5194.5 USB (Germany) [DRA5 Beacon] Channel 258 = 5258.5 USB (UK)[UK-FA] Channel 267 = 5267.5 USB (Canada) [Beacon] Channel 278 = 5278.5 USB (UK/Finland)[UK-FB] Channel 288 = 5288.5 USB (UK/Finland)[UK-FC] Channel 298 = 5298.5 USB (Finland) Channel 327 = 5327.5 USB (Canada)[Experimental] Channel 330 = 5330.5 USB (USA/Finland) Channel 346 = 5346.5 USB (USA/Finland) Channel 366 = 5366.5 USB (USA/Finland) Channel 371 = 5371.5 USB (USA/Finland)[HFpack USA] Channel 398 = 5398.5 USB (UK/Finland)[UK-FE] Channel 403 = 5403.5 USB (USA/UK)[HFpack UK][UK-FM] Notes: 1) Dial Frequency: Above listed frequencies are dial frequencies as you see them on your radio. The center-of-channel offset is already figured out for you. 2) Worldwide USB: The worldwide standard mode for Amateur Radio on 5MHz is Upper Sideband (USB). USB was established to conform with the non-amateur existing HF SSB standard. 3) USA: Only USB voice with 2.8kHz bandwidth is authorized in USA for all General class or higher licensees. Maximum power 50 Watts PEP, dipole. 4) UK: Voice, Digital, and CW modes within a 3kHz bandwidth are authorised in UK for holders of experimental or N.O.V., and channels are often described by the centre-of-channel frequency (dial+1500Hz) or the formal "Foxtrot" designators FA-FB-FC-FE-FM. 5) Germany: DRA5 Experimental Beacon, operated by DARC (DK0WCYbeacon team), transmits propagation data (dial+1500Hz) CW/RTTY/PSK31. 6) Canada: Experimental Station VO1MRC operated temporary CW beacon on Chan 267 (+1500Hz), and Voice QSOs on a specific schedule; on 20-21 Dec 2003, VO1MRC transmitted voice on Channel 327 while receiving on Channel 346 and 3807.5 kHz LSB (Marconi Radio Club of Newfoundland). VO1MRC on CW also reported on carrier freq of 5260.5kHz. 7) Finland: Finnish Club stations may apply for authorization to operate the 5MHz channels with maximum power of 50 Watts on USB only. The USB dial frequencies for Finland channels are: 5288.6, 5298.6, 5330.6, 5346.6, 5366.6, 5371.6, 5398.6 kHz. 8) HFpack: HFpack, The HF Portable Group, maintains daily and weekend skeds and a network of Echolink HF base stations in North America on 5371.5kHz. HFpack operators give priority to HF portable and mobile stations. Everyone is welcome, base, mobile, portable. In the event of an emergency, the HFpack net is activated on this channel. For more information: http://www.hfpack.com HFpack Website 9) USA Channel Activity Observed: CH 330= Emergency Nets, General Purpose, Nets CH 346= General Purpose CH 366= General Purpose CH 371= Mobile Calling, Emergency, Echolink, Nets CH 403= Calling, DXing, Awards, WAS, General Purpose 10) Evening/Night Guidelines: 5MHz channels are a shared resource with many users. Amateurs are secondary users and must yield 24 hours per day to primary government stations on the channel (mostly Data and ALE). During evening and night, the propagation range is increased, and interference is more likely. As ham activity increases, especially during the peak evening hours, the transmission time of each operator is usually kept to a minimum. Calibration of frequency within about 40Hz is important. A check of frequency against the standard time/frequency broadcasts on 5.000MHz is all it takes to verify. While transmitting on a 5MHz channel, if the operator were to accidentally bump of the VFO knob, there could be an instant violation of the regulations! So it is a good idea to keep the channel frequencies in transceiver memory, and to use the "Lock VFO" feature. Channel memories are very useful to keep track of band activity during peak hours. In between QSOs, monitor for activity, switch around to the different channels... if they are all busy, adjust operating procedure to shorten your talking time and leave gaps between transmissions to give other stations a chance to utilize the frequencies. Closing Comments Time-sharing of the limited spectrum we have on 5MHz is essential for it to continue as a useful and precious resource. The author hopes that as activity continues to increase, the original amateur spirit of cooperation and courtesy will continue to flourish on the 60 meter band. (For requests to reprint this article, please contact the author by email) 73---Bonnie Crystal KQ6XA .