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The 6-meter band is a portion of the VHF radio spectrum allocated to amateur radio use. Although located in the lower portion of the VHF band, it nonetheless occasionally displays propagation mechanisms characteristic of the HF bands. This normally occurs close to sunspot maximum, when solar activity increases ionization levels in the upper atmosphere. The prevalence of HF characteristics on this VHF band has inspired amateur operators to dub it the "magic band".

In the northern hemisphere, activity peaks from May through early August, when regular sporadic E propagation enables long-distance contacts spanning up to 2,500 kilometres (1,600 mi) for single-hop propagation. Multiple-hop sporadic E propagation allows intercontinental communications at distances of up to 10,000 kilometres (6,200 mi). In the southern hemisphere, sporadic E propagation is most common from November through early February.

Contents

Frequency allocations

6-meter frequency allocations for amateur radio are not universal worldwide. In the United States and Canada, the band ranges from 50 MHz to 54 MHz. In some other countries, the band is restricted to military communications. Further, in some nations, the frequency range is used for television transmissions, although most countries have assigned those television channels to higher frequencies (see channel 1).

Although the International Telecommunication Union does not allocate 6-meter frequencies to amateurs in Europe, the decline of VHF television broadcasts and commercial pressure on the lower VHF spectrum has allowed most European countries to provide a 6-meter amateur allocation.

In North America, especially in the United States[1] and Canada,[2] a special section of the lower part of the 6-meter band, 200 kHz in width, between 50.8 MHz and 51 MHz, is reserved by general agreement among the amateur radio community in those two nations, to allow licensed amateurs to enjoy the hobby of safely operating radio-controlled (RC) aircraft and other types of RC hobby miniatures. The upper end of the band, starting at 53.0 MHz, and going upwards in 100 kHz steps to 53.8 MHz, used to be similarly allocated to RC modelers, but with the rise of amateur repeater stations on the 53 MHz section of the band in the United States the move to the lower end of the 6-meter spectrum for radio-controlled model flying activities by licensed Hams was undertaken in North America. It is still completely legal, however, for ground-level RC model operation (cars, boats, etc.) to be accomplished on the 53 MHz section for suitably licensed amateur operators in North America.

In the United Kingdom, it is legal to use the 6-meter band between frequencies 50 MHz to 52 MHz, with some limitations at some frequencies. In the UK, 50 MHz to 51 MHz is primary usage and the rest is secondary with power limitations. A detailed bandplan can be obtained from the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) website

Many organizations promote regular competitions in this frequency to promote its use and to familiarize operators to its quirks. For example RSGB VHF Contest Committee has a large number of contests on 6 meters every year.

Because of its peculiarity, there are a number of 6-meter band operator groups. These people monitor the status of the band between different paths and promote 6-meter band operations.

Equipment

Over the past decade or so, the availability of transceivers that include the 6-meter band has increased greatly. Many commercial HF transceivers now include the 6-meter band, as do some handheld VHF/UHF transceivers. There are also a number of stand-alone 6-meter band transceivers, although commercial production of these has been relatively rare in recent years. Despite support in more available radios, however, the 6-meter band does not share the popularity of amateur radio's 2-meter band. This is due, in large part, to the larger size of 6-meter antennas, power limitations in some countries outside the United States, and the 6-meter band's greater susceptibility to local electrical interference.

As transceivers have become more available for the 6-meter band, it has quickly gained popularity. In many countries, including the United States, access is granted to entry-level license holders. Those without access to international HF frequencies often gain their first taste of true long-distance communications on the 6-meter band. Many of these operators develop a real affection for the challenge of the band, and often continue to devote much time to it, even when they gain access to the HF frequencies after upgrading their licenses.

Common uses of the 6-meter band

References

Books

  • ISBN 0970520638 SIX METERS, A GUIDE TO THE MAGIC BAND (Worldradio Books) by Ken Neubeck WB2AMU (Fourth Edition released in October 2008)

External links

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Propagation sites

Clubs and groups

Very high frequency (VHF) and ultra high frequency (UHF) amateur radio bands
VHF UHF


6 m 4 m 2 m 1.25 m 70 cm 33 cm 23 cm 13 cm
50 MHz 70 MHz 144 MHz 219–220 MHz 420 MHz 902 MHz 1.24 GHz 2.3–2.31 GHz
54 MHz 70.5 MHz 148 MHz 222–225 MHz 450 MHz 928 MHz 1.3 GHz 2.39–2.45 GHz



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