6 Meters Mobile with the FT-857D and ATAS-120A

Savannah – Earlier today, I visited the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge to decompress from the week at work. While I was there, a rainstorm came up so I parked on the side of the wildlife drive and waited for the storm to pass. Since it is Sporadic E season and I haven’t had the opportunity to try out the new ATAS-120A mobile HF/6 Meter antenna on 6 Meters, I tuned the FT-857D to 50.125 MHz and pressed the Tune button. After a few seconds, the ATAS-120A tuned itself to the frequency and showed a low SWR. A few minutes later I heard a station start calling CQ so I returned his call. It turned out to be Ron, K5WLT from Seguin, TX (near San Antonio). It was the first 6 Meter contact I’ve made in years (the Opek HVT-400B never really got the job done for me on 6 Meters) and the first one I’ve made with the ATAS-120A. K5WLT gave me a good signal and audio report, so I’m very pleased with what the mobile HF/6 Meter setup is capable of. I imagine that for the rest of the summer, whenever I’m on the road, I’ll have the FT-857D tuned to 50.125 MHz listening for E openings!

After the rain stopped, it turned out to be a pretty good refuge visit, too. I got one of my best Glossy Ibis photos yet and saw a Purple Gallinule, but it was too far away for a good photo.

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Glossy Ibis at the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge

3 thoughts on “6 Meters Mobile with the FT-857D and ATAS-120A

    1. It was. The lower part of 6 Meters is where CW/SSB/Data is at while the upper end is where 6m FM is at. I have very little experience with 6 Meters FM, but I love 6 Meters USB. With a relatively small antenna, even with a vertical when a lot of other stations are using horizontal polarization, you can have a ton of fun. It’s addictive. Summer is when 6 Meters can be very active because of E-Skip (one of the few redeeming qualities of this oppressive time of year), so if you have something that will do 6m USB, just park the radio on 50.125, the SSB calling frequency. If you’ve just got FM, sit on 52.525 and you should hear something there when band conditions are good. I don’t know how it does on FM, but when E-Skip opens up, you can talk all over half of the country, from here out to TX/OK, all through the Midwest, and up to New England with just a vertical or a simple dipole on USB.

      I imagine CARS will try some 6 Meters during their Field Day operation, so you may want to try going out there – it will be a great introduction to HF and 6m operation. Unfortunately, I’ll be working that weekend, but I’ll try to get on the air a bit with the mobile station. Warning – if you don’t already have a radio that will do it, the experience will probably make you want to get one that will!

  1. Mac, I never considered going to 6-meter on my radio before your post. My wife allowed me to buy an FT-857D for my birthday last year after I upgraded to Extra Class. My previous experience was primarily on 2-meter using the repeater systems around Atlanta before moving down to southeast Georgia. I have thoroughly enjoyed 20 and 40 meter activity. I also have the ATAS-120A. I was leery about some of its bad reviews but I have had no issues at all and made some very good contacts while sitting in my truck.
    Robert – KJ4VZJ

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