On the 6m band at my QTH, an urban location, since a few years I have a lot of noise, making contacts on this band difficult to impossible, depending on the strength of the signals. Disappointed I already took down my 6m HB9CV antenna a long time ago.
Last summer however I decided to do some WSPR experiments on 6m with my QRP Labs U3S standalone WSPR transmitter. I wanted to see what Sporadic E (Es) could do for me, and where I would be heard with the less than 100 mW the U3S puts out on the Magic Band. On TX only, the noise I experienced on 6m would be no problem.
So, I built a simple 6m dipole wire antenna and put it up indoors in the attic. Amazingly, I was quite successful with it and managed to have my WSPR signals spotted all the way in Morocco (read more about it in my blog posts here and here)!
While the 6m dipole was there, why not use it to see if I can make some 6m FT8 contacts with it? With the noiseblanker of my transceiver, the pulsating noise could be reduced a bit, and with favourable Sporadic E conditions with the indoor dipole I was making 6m FT8 contacts all over Europe easily!
Over the summer I had seen the reports of European hams making long haul 6m FT8 contacts with Canada and the USA on days with good multi-hop Es conditions! Amazing, I thought!
July 22nd was such a day with good transatlantic multi-hop Es conditions, and with the indoor 6m dipole on 6m FT8 I saw many Europeans working Canadian and Stateside stations. Amazing! At one point I even started receiving US and Canadian stations myself! Amazing!
Ok, why not try calling one? I called VE1PZ over in Nova Scotia, Canada, and not much later I saw a red line appear with VE1PZ coming back to my call.Wow, I nearly fell off my chair; I was using only 25 Watts and a simple indoor dipole antenna! AMAZING! The conditions must have been outstanding! It was my first transatlantic 6m contact. Later that day I also managed to make a 6m FT8 contact with 9K2BM in Kuwait.
The contact with VE1PZ resulted in the wonderful QSL-card shown above and below. It will always be one of the most special contacts I ever made. Well, after all it's the Magic Band, and I must admit, although it still is not my favorite weak signal mode, also a little bit the Magic Mode, FT8 :-)