Working 6m Sporadic-E Using a Collinear 1

Icom 7300 on 6m during Sporadic-E Opening

Icom 7300 on 6m during Sporadic-E Opening

My hopes weren’t too high for working much on the 6m band with my Diamond V2000 collinear antenna when I first purchased it. It was a nice afterthought that I might be able to work some sporadic-E during the summer months and possibly some local stations during contests.

So what’s the reason for this post? It’s to show you don’t need to use a multi-element beam on the 6m band when sporadic-E signals are strong and to offer some encouragement to anyone with antenna restrictions!

I’ve just moved into a new QTH and wanted to keep the antenna arrangements minimal (at least initially) so I’ve made do with the collinear and I’ve actually been rather surprised at the results.

Diamond V2000 Colinear

My Diamond V2000 Collinear – note the extended radial for 6m

I’ve been using the V2000 in combination with an Icom 7300 this E’s season, there are two pretty major advantages of this setup versus my usual portable setup of a Moxon antenna and Elecraft KX3:

  1. The collinear is omni-directional
  2. I can see all signals on the band at once on the 7300’s waterfall display

These two advantages together help me to:

  • Instantly see if there are any Sporadic E openings
  • I don’t have to know where the opening is because the V2000 is omnidirectional
  • When calling CQ I can cover a larger range of potential areas than with a beam

Operating portable with a “blind radio” like the Elecraft KX3 means tuning up and down the band looking for signals, but add to this a directional antenna like my Moxon or a Yagi and I really have to search out the signals and work out where the openings are occurring. 

3. Yagi ready to rock and roll!

My portable antennas are under less restrictions. This is my 5 element yagi for 6m used in a contest from a local hilltop

6m Moxon on Chanctonbury Beacon

The lightweight Moxon I use for SOTA activations

So What Have I Worked?

Well it has been surprising. First of all I can only work what I can hear and I’ve mostly been searching and pouncing rather than calling CQ. All of it has been done using SSB – so relying on strong openings.

So far I’ve worked 21 DXCC around Europe including the following:

  1. Austria OE
  2. Balearic Islands EA6
  3. Bulgaria LZ
  4. Cyprus 5B
  5. England G
  6. Germany DL
  7. France F
  8. Hungary HA
  9. Italy I
  10. Latvia YL
  11. Lithuania LY
  12. Norway LA
  13. Poland SP
  14. Portugal CT
  15. Sardinia IS0
  16. Scotland GM
  17. Serbia YT
  18. Slovenia S5
  19. Spain EA
  20. Switzerland HB
  21. Ukraine UR

The best DX so far has been 5B4ALX (Cyprus) in KM64tv at a total distance of 3,297km! I was very shocked when I worked him on my second call! I’ve also broken the pileups to work a number of DXpeditions operating from rare squares around Europe.

Limitations

Of course this kind of setup is going to have limitations, I know up front I’m not going to win any contests and I’m probably not going to work any transatlantic QSOs! This would be unrealistic and very much the territory of multi-element Yagi’s and amplifiers.

Sometimes I can turn on the Icom 7300 when there’s a marginal opening and see no signals on the waterfall, once again this is expected when the sporadic E opening isn’t strong and it’s quite possible the spotted stations are using better equipment.

Incidentally I use DX Maps to monitor live openings, from the map I can ascertain the strength of the opening, the location of the Sporadic E clouds and how likely I am to work anything.

DXMaps displaying Sporadic E opening

DXMaps displaying Sporadic E opening

High Angle vs Low Angle Sporadic E

Another thing I’ve come to understand is that I’m only really likely to work anything when the Sporadic E signals come in at a high angle, so where at least one of the SpE clouds is relatively nearby. A Yagi antenna would be much better for working low angle SpE which is likely to be the case for DX coming through on multi-hop E’s. But this highlights one of the reasons you can work a fair bit on 6m using a “piece of wet string”.

I’d love to do some A/B testing between a Yagi and the collinear. I suspect some signals would be stronger on either one depending on the angle of arrival.

I’ve done some interesting antenna comparisons between the V2000 collinear and my Western HF-10 wire, on the signals I tried it on the V2000 was clearly 2-3 S points louder:

Conclusion

This post isn’t intended to try and make any claim that a collinear is better than a Yagi, it’s clearly not! But hopefully it does show you can still make interesting contacts on the 6m band and have fun even using a simple antenna for the band!

I would love a box of four 10 element 6m Yagi’s as much as the next amateur, but sometimes you have to yield to your situation and compromise. Still I’ve had a blast on the band with a simple antenna πŸ™‚

I suppose next season I will try JT65 on 6m using the collinear and really push the limits a bit further!

One comment on “Working 6m Sporadic-E Using a Collinear

  1. Reply Jim K9YC Jul 5,2017 16:46

    Several thoughts. First, I wouldn’t be too certain about calling that antenna a high angle antenna. That is STRONGLY dependent on current distribution AND its mounting height as fractions of a wavelength.

    Second, the PX3 is a great addition to the KX3 for finding activity on a band like 6M.

    Third, when the band is open, many antennas that you think won’t work do just fine for working the stronger signals, but additional help is needed to work a weaker path. After moving to W6 in 2006, it was several years before I had any Al in the air, but I did have a pair of high dipoles for 80/40 fed with very good RG11. I used them on 6M rather successfully, making at least a dozen double-hop E-skip CW QSOs to the east coast (about 2,500 miles) and KH6 (about 2,200 miles). Of course, my SteppIR works better. πŸ™‚

    Fourth, working countries in EU is comparable to working states and provinces in NA.

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