It was clear to me at the 1996 AGM that the Group had no interest in promoting the band plan, preferring to throw money at DX expeditions. A quick look through Six News for the three previous years shows that the band plan was only featured once (Issue 46, August 1995 - although it has been printed on the back cover of the last three issues - Ed). However, at the 1997 AGM the point was made that the group has world-wide influence. Now is the time to use that influence before long-distance propagation improves significantly. On 15th August during sporadic-E a spot check found at least 15 European stations, including Gs, between 50.100 and 50.130MHz, the part of the band intended for inter-continental contacts. If there had been any weak DX, it would have been swamped.
When the first UK permits were issued, in 1983, the RSGB VHF Committee, in consultation with the UK Six Metre Group, produced a band plan. based on IARU recommendations. This included a DX calling frequency, 50.110, and a local SSB calling frequency, 50.200.
This arrangement was continued when the band was released to all class-A operators in 1986, slightly modified as the limits were 50.000 to 50.500MHz. Unfortunately the RSGB VHF Committee decided that there was no real need for an SSB calling frequency. The two metre calling frequency (144.300) was sometimes chaotic with several stations calling CQ at the same time and it was thought wise to avoid a similar situation on six metres. After all, there were no SSB calling frequencies on the HF bands.
This was soon realised to be a mistake and 50.200 was reinstated but, by then, the damage had been done and operators started using 50.110 with the present day result.
The main problem appears to be ignorance. The band plan has been printed in every RSGB Call Book (now the Year Book) since 1991/2 with few changes below 50.500MHz. The 50.200 SSB calling frequency has been replaced by the 50.150 SSB centre of activity and the MS frequencies have been changed.
What is to be done? Firstly, UKSMG members should resolve to abide by the plan and try to persuade non-members to do the same.
Secondly, overseas members should get their national radio societies to adopt a plan, preferably similar to the UK one, if they have not already done so.
Occasionally one may have to break the rules. If a European country that you have not worked comes up on 50.120 you should try to persuade him to move, but if there is a big pile-up this may not be practicable.
Never call CQ on 50.110 unless the band is open to an area of widespread activity, e.g. USA. If the band is dead or only open to Europe a CQ on 50.110 is pointless; at best, a waste of electricity, at worst a cause of QRM, as contacts with Europe are, clearly, not intercontinental.
Keep local CW, ie within your own continent, below 50.100. How often does one hear stations calling CQ on the key on 50.105 when the CW Calling Frequency (50.090) is clear?
Let us spread the word and try to make sure that, when the real DX starts to come through we shall be able to hear it free of European QRM.
To return to the Bits & Pieces page click here