Operating Code of Practice for 6m operators



Note: There are geographic variations to these recommendations due to varying local band plans and licensing regulations. We would encourage other Societies to adopt this Code of Practice

This is the recommended Operating Code of Practice as issued by the UKSMG in conjunction with JAROC, HARDXA, SixItaly and LABRE-SP. In due course it is hoped that many other Amateur Radio Societies will adopt the recommendations over time. The Operating Code of Practice is aimed at all radio amateurs using 6m with the hope that its adoption will make the use of the band more productive and fun for everyone.

Now that the use of the 6m band is at an all-time high with cycle-23 encroaching, it is very important that the way each of us use the band does not upset our many close radio neighbours by spoiling their ability to work DX stations and have fun them themselves. Please read these recommendations carefully and try to adopt their use in your every day operating. The alternative is that your poor operating practices will bring your callsign into disrepute that will be remembered for many years we are sure!

You automatically represent your country every time you transmit and if you do not abide by internationally accepted practices and conventions you are effectively disgracing yourself and all your fellow country amateurs!

6m AS A DX BAND: 6-metres is a DX band just like any other of the amateur radio high frequency DX bands and it, along with other 6m operators, should be treated with respect and tolerance. 

LOCAL BAND PLAN: Always respect your local band plan. In Europe this is issued by the IARU and is attached as Addendum (1). 

LOCAL QSOs: Do not cause nuisance and disturbance to other dedicated 6-meter local and overseas DX operators with local QSOs within the 50.100MHz to 50.130MHz DX Window. If you do wish to local rag-chew, it is recommended that you do this above 50.250MHz where interference will be minimised. Note: Please remember in Europe that French operators are not allowed below 50.200 so local QSOs held just above 50.200 could affect their ability to work DX.

LEARN TO LISTEN: True 6-meter DXers spend about 5% of their time transmitting while 95% of time is spent listening and observing changing band conditions and propagation modes. Learn to recognize propagation mode characteristics and when the band is likely to be showing signs of an opening. This will be far more effective than just calling CQ DX at random and ad infinitum.

 50.100 - 50.130 DX WINDOW: The DX Window is widely accepted concept and should, in principle, be used for INTER-CONTINENTAL DX QSOs only, especially the 50.110 calling frequency as discussed below. The definition of what constitutes a 'DX' station naturally lies with an individual operator, especially when a particular station within your own continent constitutes a new country! We would ask you to think carefully before having any intra-European QSOs in the DX window. For those of us in Europe, this is especially important in periods of multiple-hop Es or F2 propagation to avoid burying inter-continental QSO opportunities under a layer of European QRM. PLEASE BE SENSIBLE and avoid local QSOs in the DX window if at all possible!

As the DX Window is heavily used, always listen before you call and always ask if the frequency is being used  before you transmit (should be done on any frequency anyway). Just because YOU can’t hear anything, it does not mean that the frequency is not occupied or some rare DX is using it. Remember that operating etiquette calls for you to ask if the frequency is occupied BEFORE calling CQ.

50.110 INTERNATIONAL CALLING FREQUENCY: The international DX calling channel is 50.110MHz. This should be used for long range DX contacts and such contacts should be inter-continental (outside of your own continent) in nature. Do not under any circumstances engage in local continental QSOs on this frequency even for a minute or two. If a local station returns to your CQ, move quickly to an unused frequency above 50.130MHz. Do not use the DX calling channel for testing or for tuning up your radio/antenna.

Do not encourage pile-ups on 110. If you have a successful CQ ensure that you QSY elsewhere in the band.

50.110 CQING: LISTENING is the first rule of working rare DX on 6m. So think twice before calling CQ on 110. It would be stupid to say that you shouldn’t call CQ but please remember that this is a shared frequency so your reputation will be on line if you insist on calling CQ unceasingly every minute of the day or throughout an opening - even if you do say "CQ DX only" or "CQ outside of my continent only". The occasional CQ is good as it can discover an unrecognised opening.

If you are a 6m DXer and have been intensely listening for weak exotica for hours on 110 and up pops a CQ caller, rather than ask him rudely to clear off, ask them POLITELY to QSY and TELL THEM WHY OR WHAT YOU ARE HEARING OR LISTENING FOR, and please GIVE YOUR CALLSIGN. Of course, this applies equally well to any frequency on 6m. Most operators are sensible and will do so – probably because they would like to work the DX themselves! Conversely, if you call CQ or are occupying 100 and someone asks you politely to QSY and GIVES YOU A REASON do so without arguing about the rights of doing so - remember that that you share this resource with thousands of other operators.

If you really must call CQ on 110, think twice, listen for five minutes, cross your legs, count to 100, and if the overwhelming desire is still there go ahead and CALL - but keep it short! At the end of the day the choice is yours and yours alone. Don't forget to QSY when successful unless it is inter-continental DX!

QSO TECHNIQUES: Many operators do not take the time to learn how to DX, develop QSO skills and techniques and jump right in. This is not to be recommended as typical 6m propagation does not allow wasting of time during DX QSOs due to the nature of propagation of the band (borderline HF/VHF). Openings could be very short in time duration and DX stations wants to work as many callers as they can during an opening.

Basically, follow the style and take the lead of the DX operator in providing information. Otherwise keep it simple and to the point as there are other stations who are also waiting in line for a QSO with the DX station. Do not waste times in exchanging unnecessary information such as locator codes, names, QTH, equipment, weather and so on. Just exchange your call signs and confirm your signal reports and move on to allow other DXers to have their QSOs. Leave out all the extra information (such as Maidenhead squares) unless it is requested. Many opportunities to work a DX station are extremely short and if your operating practices prevent others from working the station it will be remembered by those who missed out for a long time. Next time it may be you who misses out.

FREQUENCY CONFLICTS: With the quickly shifting propagation as regularly encountered on 6m, it is quite possible that two stations who have been occupying a frequency for several hours running  pile-ups without hearing each other,  to suddenly find themselves in a clash.  In these circumstances, operators should mutually resolve the situation as quickly as possible to avoid  conflict. It should always be remembered that no individual operator 'owns a frequency', even if you have occupied a frequency for several hours.

DX PILE- UP OPERATING: Working and breaking DX pile-ups can be a frustrating experience on 6m as it is on HF. Manners and good operating are very important. You should listen to the DX stations carefully and not continue to call if they request a particular country or prefix to go back to them if that is not you. You should always go back with your complete callsign, give it quickly and give it only once. There is nothing more frustrating and aggravating for others in a pile-up to you to double with the DX station and miss who they going back to. Of course, you should NOT call if you cannot hear the DX station! 

If a QSO is uncompleted due to QSB or QRM, don’t continue to try and complete the QSO to an excessive degree, use your judgment and call back later. It is likely that others are hearing them OK and can complete a QSO. Take the lead from the DX station and don’t call back immediately if they are working someone else. The message is simple, try to avoid calling over the top of the DX station – it does you no good and just upsets your fellow DXers.

SPLIT FREQUENCY OPERATION: When a DX station creates a large pile-up of stations all calling him on their own operating frequency (simplex operating) it creates tremendous QRM problems for those calling and the DX station. Under these circumstances, it is recommended that the DX station uses split operating; that is transmitting on one frequency but listening over a range of frequencies above the frequency being used by the DX station. This mode of operating will significantly increase the QSO rate of the DX station.

However, split operating on 6m can cause TREMENDOUS interference with other DX operators who, through no fault of their own, are running a simplex pile-up in the same split-frequency section of the band. To minimise this interference, it is recommend that a maximum split of 10KHz (definitely NOT 100kHz) is used.

DUPLICATE QSOs: It is always tempting to call a rare DX station every time you hear it. This should be avoided as it means that you taking away the opportunity for the DX station to work a new station and give them their first QSO with the DX country. Use your judgment if the DX station is known to be rare! Conversely, a quick call can sometimes be useful if no one else is going back to the DX station to show that there is propagation.

CW OPERATION: CW is probably the major mode of operation on 6-meters due to the usually weak nature of many real DX openings. Do not call a CW DX stations using SSB as they will not be able to hear you and you will be causing severe interference to other CW DXers trying to work the station. The contrary is true as well, if you cannot break a SSB pile-up using SSB then do not call using CW!

FM QSOs: All FM transmissions should be made above 50.500 MHz for the obvious reason that FM is wide band and could wipe out weak DX signals. There is no acceptable reason to transmit FM below 50.500 MHz, as there is plenty of spectrum allocated for this purpose.

Notes: This Code of Practice may be amended by UKSMG, JAROC & HARDXA from time to time to reflect current licensing conditions and operating practices.

Addendum 1:

IARU Region 1 50MHz Band Plan

50.000 - 50.100    CW only    50.020 - 50.080     Beacons
        50.090     CW calling frequency
50.100 - 50.500    SSB and CW only    50.100 - 50.130     DX window
        50.110     Intercontinental calling frequency
        50.150     SSB centre of activity
        50.185     Cross-band activity centre
        50.200     MS reference frequency (CW and SSB)
50.500 - 51.000    All modes    50.500 - 50.700     Digital communications
        50.510     SSTV
        50.550     Fax
        50.600     RTTY
        50.710 - 50.910     FM repeater outputs (UK)
51.000 - 51.410    All modes    51.210     Emergency communications priority
        51.210 - 51.410     FM repeater inputs (UK)
51.410 - 51.830    All modes    51.430 - 51.590     FM, 20kHz channel spacing
        51.510     FM calling
51.830 - 52.000    All modes    51.940 - 52.000     Emergency communications priority