6m Propagation Question

Discussion in 'VHF/UHF - 50Mhz and Beyond' started by K0LWC, May 5, 2019.

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  1. K0LWC

    K0LWC Ham Member QRZ Page

    I’m relatively new to 6m and I’m wondering what the patterns are for openings? I understand the e-skip season, but more specifically when do openings occur? Is it a sunrise/sunset kind of band, or do openings occur randomly at any time (morning, midday, evening)

    Ive been using DXMaps to keep an eye on conditions. Can any elmers share their expertise on this?
  2. WA3GWK

    WA3GWK XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'm not an expert on sporadic E but I have enough experience on 6 meters too begin to see some patterns. Sporadic E can happen at any time, I find at my QTH on the AL gulf coast openings occur mostly in the morning with a drop off around noon local and then pick up early evening. At the peak of the season, the band can remain open most of the 24 hours. I have caught a few openings thus far leading up to the summer season and expect them to become more frequent and intense.

    As the density of the E cloud increases to the point where it just supports 6 meter propagation, skip distances tend to be long, 1200-1500 mi. As the density increases, frequencies above 6 meters are useful (2 Meters) and the skip distance on 6 meters shortens. There may be several clouds at once supporting propagation in several directions and multi-hop distances beyond 1500 mi.

    Watch for E skip on 10 meters to anticipate openings on 6. Use other aids such as postings on DX Maps to see what others are hearing and working. Hope this helps. Hopefully others will be along to add to what I have observed.
  3. WA4SIX

    WA4SIX Ham Member QRZ Page

    I don't bother with DXMaps, anymore There are many openings that never appear there. I point the antenna North, call CQ (1.3KW), rotate 15-20*, call again. I rarely do not make contact.
  4. K9STH

    K9STH Platinum Subscriber Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    The technique used by QQ works very well.

    Just call CQ on 50.125 MHz (USB). If no answer, turn the antenna a certain number of degrees (I like 30-degrees because the beam-width of most 6-meter antennas is usually a little wider than that) and call CQ again. If no answer, continue rotating the antenna until you have gone the entire 360-degrees.

    I have been operating on 6-meters for almost 60-years and the band can be open at any time, during any season, during the year. Tropospheric ducting, as well as E-skip, F-Layer propagation, etc., can, and does, occur and often goes unnoticed. This is because way too many people are just listening and not transmitting. With no one transmitting, there are no signals to be received and, as such, band openings are ignored.

    Listening to the beacon band can help one tell if the band is open. Unfortunately, there are a LOT of areas in which there are no beacons and the band just may be open to those areas. Another unfortunate situation is that there are a LOT of amateur radio operators, these days, who cannot copy CW and, as such, cannot determine the location of the various beacons.

    Glen, K9STH
    K5VZD likes this.
  5. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I listen for the beacons and have several beacon frequencies programmed into memories in my 6m rig so the rig can "scan" those. It's amazing (as Glen wrote above) how often 6m is "open" to somewhere far away and there's really no activity, so it's a wasted opening! If everyone spent more time calling CQ that would certainly help.

    Also, since the OP is in Denver, which may be far enough north to catch Aurora sometimes, AU is another propagation often overlooked and it's more workable on six meters than probably any other band: It can be workable on 10m sometimes, and also on 2m with weaker signals, and even 222 MHz with even weaker signals, but 50 MHz seems a sweet spot for AU and if you hear reports of the "Northern Lights" that might be visible anywhere in your area, check out 6m and "point north." Unlike meteor scatter, E-skip, tropo, etc., AU always peaks north, or very close to north, irrespective of where the other station is located. Signals sound very "raspy" (like whispers, on SSB) but are understandable if people speak slowly and it's just another part of six meter fun.
  6. AA5CT

    AA5CT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Look for "returns" (reflections) at the 100 km level from 2 MHz out to 4 MHz (and above, if REALLY strong) on the second data plot here:


    Literally, you will be looking at E-layer reflectivity due to 2 to 4 MHz energy from a ground-mounted RADAR that 'looks' straight up ... I have seen really, really strong 'returns' in this area of the graph last summer when 6 meters was hopping. :)
  7. WA3GWK

    WA3GWK XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    DXMaps, listening for beacons, calling in different directions, etc are all tools. Use them all.
  8. WA4SIX

    WA4SIX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Oh, welcome to the most addictive band we have.

    WA3GWK likes this.
  9. N2SLO

    N2SLO XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    As most have posted, Es can happen at any time. I live on the North shore of Long Island. The pattern is usually mid to late morning, then mid after noon until early evening, then again 6-7pm until around 8-9 pm on a strong opening.. That is the frequent pattern and openings for me. Your location can and will be different, so observe the DX maps, spots, and you get good at predicting the when.....
  10. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    For years when I was more active on 6m (in the 70s-80s I was very active, from NJ) I'd actually look at weather reports to help determine the likelihood of Es. That sounds crazy, since weather is tropospheric and Es is ionospheric -- so how can they be related?

    But somehow, tons of evidence indicated they actually were related. Never knew how or why, and I'm not sure anyone ever explained this well.

    But if you see T-storms (lightning) from your area then throughout a string on the weather map, aim towards that and see what happens.:) After about 20 years of doing this, the "T-storm" maps seemed close to 100% accurate in predicting workable Es on six meters (and often also 10m, and very occasionally on 2m...although 2m Es is pretty rare).

    Probably the most magnificent and memorable example of this: The ARRL June VHF QSO Party, 1987. I operated that from FM27, on Chincoteague Island, VA. We had all the antennas, tents, generators up on Friday, so Saturday was mostly cleaning up and getting ready for the contest to start. Shortly after the contest started, HUGE thunderstorms. The lightning was so close to us it was blinding. Hairs on our arms were standing up, and you could smell ozone in the air. Looking just across a bit of water towards Wallops Island (line of sight) where a big NASA installation was, we could see lightning obviously striking a lot of the NASA stuff there (big dish antennas and such).

    But...we never shut down, and just stayed on the air: Because 6m Es was so intense, signals from California (2x or 3x-hop Es) were literally pinning our S-meter on 50 MHz. Not just one or two superstations...everybody. One of our ops had a small portable TV that was battery powered so we turned that on and found a WX report...almost "coast to coast" Thunderstorms, from VA through the midwest, through the Rockies...just everywhere. I cannot ever recall that happening before, but then I'm not a weather guy.

    By Sunday morning we had worked all 48 contiguous states and I bet my 6m operator (who was WB2OTK at the time) $20 he couldn't work AK or HI. Five minutes later he pulled the plug on the headphones so we could all hear him complete his contact with Hawaii, and signals were not weak. From VA that has to be 4x hop Es. I gave him $20 and continued the bet re Alaska. 30 minutes later, headphones pulled again as he completed not one but two KL7 contacts. Another $20.

    We now had logged all 50 states, five VE provinces, and a few DX entities in the Caribbean. All inside of 36 hours. We ended up with 204 grids worked in just over one day of operating and after submitting our logs, were advised by the League this was the first time it was reported to them a single station worked all 50 states on six during one contest.

    It held true once again that big T-storms and Sporadic-E seem to somehow be linked, but we still don't know why. Just guessing that since the sun impacts practically everything here including our weather, whatever solar activity promotes formation of the E layer also promotes thunderstorms.

    Spend a lot of time on the band, and you'll likely notice the same thing.
    WA4SIX likes this.

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