6-Meter Radials

    One of the Local QRPers came up the hill today and there was joy in his stride. He was the same one who we'd heard on the 2-meter repeater telling one of the big guns about this new found success on 6-meters. He wasn't long getting to the point.

    "5 new ones today!" He began, grinning from ear to ear, "That makes 13 in 4 days. I guess at this rate, using simple linear math, the time for me to get my 50-MHz DXCC is (100 X 4 / 13) = 30.8 days. That's one month."

    We held up our hand in resistance: "Wait a minute. It isn't linear! It took VE1YX over 12 years to get 6-meter DXCC. And he was at it all the time, with an 8-element beam at 70-feet fed with hard-line and a big amplifier. You just hit a fluke in propagation."

    The QRPer grinned wider and shook his head. "Nope, not on your life! I wouldn't do this for just anyone, but I'm going to let you in on my secret. Here's what I did. I got rid of my beam, amplifier and tower. Sold it. Then I bought a multi-band vertical with the 12/17-meter add-on kit. That part is important as it widens out your resonance point."

    We tried to get a word in, but he was going full steam ahead. "I know, I know! You had your resonance point widened by a doctor a few years ago, but this is different."

    We shoved back our baseball cap and finally took it right off. We scratched our forehead as the QRPer ploughed on.

    "Here's the secret. 51 radials! Not 49, not 50 and not 52. 51. But there's more to it than that. The first 50 radials can be any length, and they should be a mix if you are going to use your antenna on HF too. The trick is radial 51. Make it the portion of the wavelength where you are most likely to be operating. If you plan to be around 50.100 MHz, then cut it .100 wavelength. If 50.150 MHz, cut it .150 of a wavelength, and so on. This isn't too critical as your vertical will be broad-banded to begin with, but if you want that extra edge, cut it where the DX is likely to be, and then you'll be ready to pounce!"

    "You won't find this in any ARRL antenna book. And don't tell anyone, either! If everyone finds out, then we won't have the advantage. You just listen to me, and I'll teach you how to DX on 6-meters. I have a few more tricks up my sleeve. You try this antenna one first. Then we'll move on to phase two. There is a 6-meter DXer buried inside you somewhere. We'll get him out in the open!"

    With that he was off down the hill, running and kicking up his heels in anticipation of tomorrow's 6-meter opening. Son of a Gun! Some days there are times when you can anticipate what is coming, and be prepared. Somehow, we didn't even think Lord Baden-Powell, the Hero of Mafeking, would have been prepared for this one. So we just watched him round the corner and hoped tomorrow would be another good day on 6. It kept the QRPers off the lower bands, and we still needed the 5W0VK on 17-meters.

    The Great Days of DXing are upon us. The signs are everywhere. QST printed an article saying we were in the middle of a double peak cycle and the Palos Verdes Sundancers were showing no signs of letting up. Maybe the QRPer had actually come across something . . . like too sitting too close to the amplifier with the cover off! DX IS!


This story is in the public domain and may be reproduced in any format. - VE1DX

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Last updated on Thursday, 12 April 2007