Jul 31 2016

6 Meter DXCC Magic from Cuba

By Douglas Ruz, CO8DM

CO8DM

CO8DM

My 6 meter DXCC attempt started in November 1997, when a group of Swedish hams from the Kvarnberget Amateur Radio Club, SK0UX, along with Soren Pedersen, OZ1FTU, and Carlos Rodríguez, SM0KCO/CX7CO, visited my club in Las Tunas to participate in the CQ World Wide DX contest (CW). Among my Cuban colleagues who participated were Oscar Morales Jr, CO2OJ, a VHF pioneer in Cuba. Watching Oscar operate 6 meters sparked my interest in the magic band. After the contest, I began searching for 6 meter equipment, but it is very difficult to get radios here in Cuba. My 6 meter interest was dormant until 2000, when Steven Wheatley, KU9C, offered me an MFJ-9406 6 meter transceiver and a Mirage A1015G 150 W amplifier.

Don Fisher, VE3ESE, managed to get the rig into Cuba for me and it finally arrived in March 2001. I immediately erected an inverted V dipole about 20 feet high. During March and April, transequatorial propagation (TEP) is the predominant mode. I first experienced the “magic” on April 2 at 2000Z, when I heard ZL3SIX/b 599. I couldn´t believe that a 20-foot inverted V could hear New Zealand. A few minutes later, I hear ZL3ZY calling on CW but the MFJ-9406 is phone only. Since then, I´ve never heard another New Zealand station. On April 6, I made my first contact with Raul Romero, CE3RR (FF46), who was followed by another Chilean, Pipe Asenjo, CE3SAD. During the following days, I worked Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil.

My excitement grew with each new contact. June and July brought sporadic E, allowing me to contact many US, Central American, and Caribbean stations, adding to my country and grid counts.The solar maximum of late 2001 brought F2 propagation and openings to Europe. I made hundreds of contacts just with my inverted V. Eventually, I built a two-element quad and today, I have a five-element homebrew yagi. The main difficulty of operating 6 meters is in not knowing when openings will occur. Because of this, most 6 meters operators use the DX Cluster. Here in Cuba, I didn´t have access to this tool. To find DX, I kept the radio on the 50.110 MHz DX window and monitored TV Channel 2 and the FM stations.

During contest, many operators travel to rare grids or DXCC entities, so working contest enabled me to add many countries and grids to my log. Another tool that helped me achieve 6 meter DXCC was learning CW, which made identifying beacons much easier and allowed contacts with many CW-only stations. The last part of achieving DXCC is confirming the contacts. In particular, my manager Steve, KU9C, and my friend Julio, NP3CW, and Papo, KP4EIT, provided much help and advice. Of particular note is David, ex CO8DC, whose persistence was instrumental in obtaining my 5T5SN Mauritania QSL. After 15 years of 6 meter activity from Cuba, I am proud to have achieved VUCC and DXCC. I encourage everyone to experience and enjoy the magic band.(Published in QST Magazine, October 2015)

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