Winter 2006 Issue

BEGINNER'S GUIDE

A 6-meter Rig and an Antenna Analyzer

By Rich Arland, K7SZ

Because this issue of CQ VHF will arrive during the winter 6-meter band openings, I decided to present a quick mini-review of a product that I have in my shack. Ranger Communications, Inc. (410 West 35th Street, National City, CA 91950; <http://www. rangerusa.com>) offers what I consider a good deal in a single-band VHF+ transceiver. The RCI-5054 DX-100 is a multi-mode 6-meter transceiver with variable power output up to 100 watts on SSB (50 watts on AM/FM/CW). The rig covers the complete 6-meter band from 50 through 54 MHz continuously while offering a 10-frequency memory, two programmable scan modes, and programmable repeater splits (for 6-meter repeater operation) up to 2 MHz. CTCSS tone encode/decode is optional.

This single-band rig is ideal for someone just getting started in ham radio via the Technician Class license, or for us “Old Timers” who need a rig parked on 6 meters to look for band openings while chasing the VUCC awards program. With up to 100 watts available on SSB and 50 watts on FM, the RCI-5054 DX-100 can provide reliable communications for local-area contacts as well as for some serious DX openings.

Six meters is not called the “Magic Band” for nothing. This unique portion of the spectrum offers great potential for local-area repeaters and simplex FM operation. You can get away from the congestion on 2 meters simply by using the RCI-5045 in the FM mode. Simultaneously, 6 meters can suddenly “open up” and you will be working DX on single- and multi-hop paths out past 3000 miles using the weak-signal SSB mode.

I love 6 meters just for this unusual combination of propagation enhancements. Having a single high-powered radio that I can dedicate to 6-meter operations allows me the luxury of not tying up the main transceiver just to monitor the occasional long-haul opening on 6 meters. The RCI-5054 sits quietly on the shack operations bench tuned to 50.125 MHz, the multi-mode squelch turned up to quiet the receiver, which ensures that I am not bothered by the constant background band noise. Should 6 meters suddenly experience a propagation enhancement such as a sporadic-E opening or a tropo ducting event, the squelch will open up as DX stations begin transmitting on the 6-meter calling frequency of 50.125 MHz. Life is good.

The RCI-5054 DX-100 is a multi-mode 6-meter transceiver with variable power out put up to 100 watts on SSB (50 watts on AM/FM/CW).

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