So why 6 meter's ?

Well for one thing, the 6m band is under utilized and it happens to be a band that I love and would never want to loose. For another, there is an abundance of used commercial equipment around at bargain prices, some even free for the asking.

Also, for those that are more familiar with a 2m and 440 repeater systems, you already know that 2 meters provides better coverage than 440. Well a 6 meter repeater, for same antenna height, gain and EIRP will yield better coverage than a 2 meter repeater. In addition, the lower frequency range of 6 meters will allow much deeper coverage into fringe areas. This is of special interest when one is mobile.

As was mentioned above, using 6 meters is somewhat different that 2 meters. First of all, it is at approximately one third the frequency of 2 meters. This means that the wavelength will be 3 times as long. Most importantly, this means that a short rubber duck will work worse on 6 meters than a similarly-sized rubber duck will work on 2 meters. This also means that, from inside a car or vehicle, 6 meters won't work as well as 2 meters (which, if you have been on the receiving end of someone running mobile with an in-car antenna, you know doesn't work very well, either!). So basically we are talking outside antenna on the vehicle. Don't get me wrong, a portable, a.k.a. HT on 6m is great, but you need a large 12 inch or long rubber duckie, not a good length in a vehicle. The upshot of this is that 6 meters isn't really a handie-talkie/rubber duck sort of band.

Where 6 meters really shines is its range. Let me explain: Once you have gone through the trouble of putting up/using a half-decent 6 meter antenna (a quarter-wave ground plane, J-pole, Ringo AR-6 or beam, for example) you'll notice that 6 meters can carry quite a bit farther than 2 meters can for the same power level and height and gain antenna. There are several reasons for this fact.

The most obvious reason is that there is a decrease in what is called "apparent path loss" at the lower frequency of 6 meters, as compared with 2 meters. Given two stations - on a 6 meters and one on 2 meters - identical stations in terms of receive sensitivity and transmit power and that they are both using quarter-wave ground plane antennas, the 6 meter station will have a signal that is nearly 10db (that's 10 times) stronger than the 2 meter station. If you compare 6 meters to 70cm, the difference is approximately 20db (that's 100 times!)

Another major reason for 6 meters carrying farther is that it propagates differently. In many cases it can seem to get over mountains better (using various propagation modes such as knife-edge and diffraction.) Finally, it is much less affected by absorption of foliage than 2 meters and especially as on 70cm.

These improvements come at a price, however as 6 meter antennas are quite a bit larger than their 2 meter counterparts. Also, 6 meter operation is also more likely to cause TVI (Television Interference) than either 2 meters or 70 cm (especially to channel 2.) Also, 6 meters is also more likely to be affected by powerline noise than 2 meters on receive. As you should know, powerline noise that is getting into your receiver locally is not transmitted to the other end.

Another factor that you may (or may not) consider to be a disadvantage is that 6 meters has frequent band openings. When 6 meters is open, it is much like 10 meters in that low power can allow you to work all over. Openings on 6 meters are less frequent that those on 10 meters and there are fewer people on the band. You will be amazed at the distance some stations may be from the repeater during the April-September Sporatic-E seasons.

Yet another reason for choosing 6 meters was that since the band is under used and has almost no LIDS on it and those that want to use such a system will come to 6m just as they said in "Field of Dreams" built it and they will come.

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