5 MHz Rock Band Increasing Activity, Now Finland

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by KQ6XA, Feb 15, 2004.

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  1. KQ6XA

    KQ6XA Ham Member QRZ Page

    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.

    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".



    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]


    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:
    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

  2. W0LC

    W0LC Ham Member QRZ Page

    It can be a fun band, but sure wish some of the new comers would spreadout to some of the other channels. It makes it hard to work anyone on a channelized band when they rag chew continually or run a Net style operation. I think most capable individuals can work each other without a net control station. Leave that stuff on 40/80 please!

    Too bad there isn't any code on that band, yet.
  3. Guest

    Guest Guest

    I have been amazed at the propagation on 60 meters.  Daytime propagation out to 1000 miles (in my experience) is almost always possible.  Long distance (DX), into the UK and other parts of the world is fairly easy with only 50 watts into a dipole.  Then again, since I have worked into Europe on 75 meters with only 2 watts on SSB I would guess 60 meters might be better.

    But, like others, I was wondering what was going on with this band since we were originally told this was a USA band only.  Since then, I have worked a number of Carribean islands, Mexico, the UK, Honduras, Panama and Ireland.  So much for a USA band only.  Only hope more countries come on line.  It is a fun and very courteous band.

  4. KC2EGL

    KC2EGL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Sounds like 60 meters is a fun band. I would love to work it.
    Which HF equipment dealers carry rigs for 60 meters, or can I have my TS 570 modified to work 60 meters?
  5. W0LC

    W0LC Ham Member QRZ Page

    I want to WARN others about using radios on 60 meters!

    Some radios, although you can open up the transceive capability (i.e. clipping a diode, etc.), some radios like the Icom IC-756PRO are not suitable for operation on those bands due to the radio's bandpass filtering.
    You may operate, and yes it will work, but over time, the band pass filters may actually burn up due to the large mismatch in what the radio is designed for vs. the ability to be able to operate there properly.

    Some of the older radios will operate there, such as the TS-440, the SGC-2020, the Icom 718, etc.

    You should contact your radio's manufacturer first to determine if the particular radio you own CAN safely operate on that band.

    Comments about 60 meters in general. Unfortunately, where I live, the noise level is atypically around S-7-8 on that band which makes it hard to work much "DX". I think however, if everyone were to spread out (i.e. use the other channels available), more individuals could work more states, countries, etc. At present, too many congregate on one or two channels and others monopolize the channels. This isn't 75 meters guys!

    I think (and hope) that over time, these indivdiuals will learn to respect for short QSOs and if rag chewing is there thing, use one of the lower channels for that. I am sure most would appreciate having the opportunity of calling and working other stations.

    GL and see you there!
  6. K3XR

    K3XR Ham Member QRZ Page

    60 mtrs. is a nice change of pace.  Recently worked G1AJI and G5BM, he was on cw, apparently there is not a mode restriction in the UK.  Also they are allowed to run 100 wtts., not sure if they have an ERP restriction.
  7. W0LC

    W0LC Ham Member QRZ Page


    I assume you meant cross mode (you on SSB and the G-station on CW). We are not allowed CW mode on that channelized band, yet.

    Yes, it is kinda a fun band, but to me, much like 40 meters actually. I think with the simplicity of the power (50 watts), most using dipoles, etc., it seems more fun.

    I hope to be able to work some Europe sometime if the noise abates in our area sometime.
  8. MM1RAH

    MM1RAH Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have been commumicating with OH2LRD (Marko) and we have a 5 MHz Activity Day planned for the 28th February 2004. Marko is very keen to make contacts with USA and UK 5 MHz operators, so listen out for him and the other Finnish Clubs. There should be a reasonable UK presence also!

    Watch my web for latest info: 5 MHz Activity Day

    Looking forward to working you!

    73 de MM1RAH
    Rob Hemesley
  9. W1CAR

    W1CAR Ham Member QRZ Page


    The Mid-Atlantic Emergency Net is active on the first and third Wednesdays of every month at 2100 hours Eastern Time on 5330.5 USB. Amateurs in the Eastern USA are requested to check in... and other locations may also do so, but from what I understand the net controls try to keep the net under 30 minutes in duration so not to hog the channel.

    60 meters is awesome. I had to construct a dedicated antenna for it to use it correctly, though.
  10. KZ1X

    KZ1X Ham Member QRZ Page

    I built a nice 2-band trap dipole.  It's for 60m and 30m.  Has a 1:1 balun at the feed, and is made of #14 FlexWeave with real ceramic end insulators and Spi-Ro commercial-grade traps.  Shows perfect SWR with the analyzer.

    None of my base rigs will work either band though.  Think I got ahead of myself.

    Anybody want to buy the antenna?  $40 plus shipping.
    Unmunge this e-mail address and reply:
    kz1x, at yahoo (dott) com
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