60M PROPAGATION TEST - VA2BY
With the worldwide interest in a proposed new ham band allocation at 60Meters, and the fact that at least two countries
(United Kingdom and United States) have authorized limited 60M amateur radio usage, Team Zone 2 decided that we would
apply to Industry Canada for the first Canadian authorization to transmit an amateur signal on the 60M band.
In August, 2002, we applied for permission to conduct a propagation test on the 60M band. We tried to design our testing
procedure to allow us to make QSOs, in addition to running the beacon to gauge general coverage of the 60M band.
Our original request was turned down, but Carl, VE3BY, forwarded another request with the support of RAC for reconsideration
in mid September. On October 17- a scant 3 days before many of us were to leave for northern Quebec- the approval for
transmissions on 60M was approved!
The day before we left, we received word from the UK that any UK station authorized to use 60M would be allowed to contact
us, i.e. have a QSO, on 60M. As the UK procedure up until now precluded contacts outside the UK, this was an unexpected
turn of events. It meant that the first Amateur Transatlantic QSO might be possible from our group in Northern Quebec!
With the authorization in hand, we then had to determine how to apply the language in the approval notice.
The authorization specified that we had to go by the “technical parameters” as specified in the proposal.
1. Power output- maximum 100 watts.
2. Frequencies- 5280 CW, 5290 Data, 5400 SSB, and 5405 SSB, or close by.
3. Antenna- Dipole no higher than 15M above ground.
4. We were not to interfere with any authorization user, and had to tolerate any interference from any authorized users.
Power Output- The original proposal was designed with the intention of using an Elecraft K2/100 transmitting on 60M;
the K-2/100 is one of the few radios that allows power output to be changed via software commands. To put the K-2/100 on
60M would have required a mod kit from Elecraft; we had contacted Elecraft when we submitted the original proposal, and
they would have made the mod available to us then, but the reconsidered approval, just 3 days before our departure, was
not enough time to pull it all together. A Yaesu FT-1000MP, with the power output limited to 50watts via a menu item,
was the tranceiver we actually used on 60M.
Frequencies- In accordance with our proposal, we used 5280 khz. for CW and 5405 khz for SSB.
Antenna: A full size 60M dipole was constructed for this test. The SWR was 1.2:1 at 5280, and about 1.8:1 at 5405.
It was fed through 120 ft of RG8X cable. The first day of tests, commencing about 2300 on Oct 21, the dipole was erected
about 5 meters above ground and strung NW-SE. The rest of the days it was about 9 meters above ground, and was
Interference: If we could hear another station on or near any of our authorized frequencies, we chose not to transmit on that frequency.
5290 normally had other stations on it; 5400 frequently had other stations on it, and 5405 occasionally had other stations
on it. We never heard any other stations on 5280KHz, so the beacon was active on that frequency.
Beacon: We first turned the 60M beacon on about 2327Z on Monday, October 21, and it was on every night until 1200Z. Our last
beacon transmission was Friday morning at 1200Z. Our other station assembly and test activities precluded us from leaving
the beacon on during the day. Combining on-the-air reports with reception reports either e-mailed or regular mailed to us,
we received the following reports:
Time Ending Reports
1200Z 10/22 49
1200Z 10/23 50
1200Z 10/24 7
1200Z 10/25 3
We received reception reports from 10 different countries (Northern Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, Canada, United States,
Greece, Germany, Finland, Italy), 6 Provinces (NB, NS, BC, AB, ON, QC), and 11 States (MA, MS, ME, WA, VA, NC, GA, NY,
FL, OH, MD). Furthest east was Greece, furthest south was Florida, furthest west was British Columbia.
In total, 73 people provided reception reports. The receiving apparatus and experimental antennas in use at these 73 sites around
the world helped us carry out this experiment. Our sincere thanks go to all those who volunteered their skill and equipment at all
hours of the day and night to make these tests a success.
1. 60M would seem to be an outstanding band for covering two-thirds of Canada with very good signals during the nightime hours.
It has a lower noise level than 80M, and it seemed to resist the tendency to “go long” as 40M often will.
2. With properly matched antennas on both ends, it should be anticipated that the 60M communications possibilities would greatly
improve over our limited study presented here. Most of the stations giving us reception reports were using antennas that were
not tuned for 5mhz (did not present 50 ohm loads to their receivers), and therefore were not able to deliver the strongest signal
to the receiver..
3. While the 60M signal was heard in the UK as early as 2330Z, it seemed to peak in the 0600 time frame (European sunrise) and
was actually audible as late as 0915Z according to one European.
4. Columns were added to the reception log spreadsheet to indicate the “A” and “K” indices during the 4 day tests. The effect on
60M propagation from our latitude can be plainly seen; even when the geomagnetic storms subside, 60M propagation was
negatively affected by our northern latitude, most likely from the aurora that covered the sky on the one night that it was clear.
There were several Europeans that stated that the beacon was inaudible on Thursday and Friday mornings; and VE3ESE in
Kitchener, Ont, reported us as S-2 for several hours on the morning of Oct 25. Indeed, the number of signal reports on those
mornings was a fraction of the first two days; either the “newness” of the project had worn off, or we were not being heard well
During those two days, we also had a great deal of difficulty working stations on the 40-80-160M bands due to the unsettled
conditions and the aurora that was covering us.
Contacts: We were able to make 6 contacts with stations from the UK, all the first two nights. After starting the beacon on
5280 the first night, our attention was turned to setting up other equipment in the operating site. We don’t know how long he
called us, but we suddenly realized that someone was calling us on the beacon frequency! The beacon was shut down, and
we carefully copied station GI4VIV as he peaked 459 out of the noise! So began the first 60M Transatlantic QSO, with 459s
each way! The dipole at 15 feet worked! After that QSO, we called QRZ? a few times, but no one else came back, so the
beacon was again energized. About half an hour later, we again heard someone calling us, and M0STP went into the log,
closely followed by G3IFF. After another 45 minutes of beacon activation, at 0130 we switched to LSB to work a group of
Canadians crossband to 40M. This produced a number of signal reports in a short period of time, and gave the guys a chance
to say “hi” to their friends here at our site. At 0300 it was back to the beacon, with 3 more UK QSOs: GI4VIV (now 599),
GM4DTH, and G3HQT all making the log. The beacon was left on for the rest of the night, and we went to sleep.
The following evening, we made a number of crossband contacts, both into VE and W-lands, but the only new transatlantic
contact was G3BDQ.
The 60M authorization provided Team Zone 2 with an opportunity to be the first Canadian 60M operation, and to demonstrate
the capabilities and potential of a new frequency band. The operators who participated in this first 60M operation were
VA2BY, NB1B, VE3SRE, N8RA, VE3DXE
Look for 60m contacts
Log book on the 60m page