Six meters is hopping

I just experienced three days of six meter activity like I have never seen before. I have no idea if it is related, but the weather in Cyprus went from seasonal daytime temperatures in the 20s to three days in a row that peaked over 40C — that’s hot, and not really expected at this time of year. During those days the six meter band was open all afternoon and into the evening with signals from both the Middle East and Europe pouring into my modest station.

I don’t have a dedicated six meter antenna up: just a screwdriver antenna with a mobile whip on my roof, but that has not been as limiting as I would have thought. The antenna base plus the whip are a quarter wave on six meters, so it is probably not that inefficient on that band, and I have strung various ground wires at the base, so there is some reasonable counterpoise. Nonetheless, I did not expect to work the 32 DXCC entities that I did work during those days with this set up.

6-meter CW contacts during a 15 minute window a couple days ago showing contact from 5B4APL to stations in England and Kuwait.

I certainly cannot complain about location. The picture above says it all: I am perfectly situated to work stations in both the Middle East and Europe. On this particular day, I was working station after station on FT8. Contacts were coming so quickly that I switched to a custom message to QSY to CW mode on 50.096 Mhz. Over the last few days I have worked something like 400 stations on FT8 and another 60 on CW. I even worked YO7LBX and SV1LHZ on sideband, which I thought was pretty amazing given that I am running 50W into an antenna that does not even clear the top of my roof.

So far, my best DX is Bahrain, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia across the peninsula to the SE and Kazakhstan to the NE. To the North I have reached Scotland and Sweden and westward to Portugal. Other stations in the Mediterranean sites also figured prominently: Greece, Crete, Malta, Sicily, Sardinia, and probably coastal stations in other countries as well.

Here is what propagation looked like on FT8 on one of the peak evenings:

This is not the best propagation I have experienced on 6 meters — that still has to be working Italy, Greece, and Israel from Madagascar on my hexbeam antenna, but it is the longest, most reliable opening I have ever seen and the number of stations on the air rivals activity during VHF contests in which I have participated from the US.

At my last QTH in Maryland, USA, I had mounted a 5-element beam for 6-meters on the roof of my house and was just getting a feel for the band when we left. Between MSK-144 meteor scatter, FT8, CW and a few rare sideband contest contacts, I had worked 21 states in the USA. I still have that antenna with me, but it is packed up in a box and waiting for some kind of tower. I don’t think it will get up this Es season, but perhaps for December.

One thought on “Six meters is hopping”

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