Sporadic E skip on 2 meters — Rare but Possible

   I’ve posted a lot in here about how E skip happens frequently on 6 meters in May-August, with it peaking in June and July.  It’s funny how so few Joe Q. Hams know about this.  Probably better, because if even 20-30% of hams with 6 meters all got on during a big opening, it would almost be too crowded! 

   The MUF (Maximum Usable Frequency) in a VHF band opening can vary quite a bit.  Sometimes it only gets to 10 meters (OK, I know 28 megs isn’t considered VHF).  Frequently, it gets toward 50 MHz and 6 meters.  Sometimes it gets into the FM broadcast band, and I’m sure plenty of those reading here have done some DX’ing on their car radio or home stereo. 

   Perhaps 2-5 times a summer, the MUF goes as high as 144 MHz or slightly higher.  If you’re around the rigs at that time, you need to hop to it and work some DX you may not be able to work at any other time. 

   The best indicator for keeping track of 144 E skip possibities that I know of is listening to how E skip is behaving on 6 meters.  A basic 6 meter opening from WI will open up to New England, the Carolinas, Florida, Texas or Colorado.  Basically in an 800-1200 miles-away arc.   But E skip is variable.  Sometimes you’ll get an opening to the Pacific NW, or sometimes the band will “shorten up” and you’ll hear stations from OH/KY/MO/KS/Dakotas. 

    Without getting into technical details, when 6 shortens up, you need to really pay attention to 2 meters.  The shortening up means that the MUF is rising.  When you’re getting stations from 300-500 miles away on 6 meters with big signals, it’s time to call CQ on/near 144.200, SSB mode. 

    If you get lucky and 144 does get busy, please remember to spread out a bit.  The opening may only last a few minutes to a few hours.  If everybody is parked on 144.200 it’s a traffic jam.  Find your own freq. and call away.  Or tune around and find others.  You shouldn’t have to go very far away from 144.200, up/down 20-30 kc should be adequate.   Also, be brief, please.  A 144 Es opening is precious.  Keep CQ’s short, listen, and when you work someone, realize they probably want to work as many as possible in the short time the band’s open. 

    I’ve only caught Es on 144 twice (in 6 seasons).  I’m sure if I had a rig on all the time right next to me, I’d have caught more.  But one day, I came home, and worked four stations in FLA.   It was done in 5 minutes; no idea how long it might have been open.  Another year, I knew 6 was getting short and I was calling fast CQ’s toward Texas.   I ended up working one fellow in the heart of Texas and that was it. 

    For more reading,  the VHF/UHF column in QST is a good place.  They report these openings in detail.  I’m sure using Google would net you some good stories as well. 

    All I want you to know is that yes, you can occasionally work E skip on 2 meters.  It’s not science fiction.  Nor do you need a super-station.  A beam up 20-40′ will do just fine.  If it’s a particularly strong opening, you will work Es on a vertical, up on the FM portion around 146.55.   Just remember that if 6 meters is getting short skip, it’s time to think about 2 meters.

   As with the last post, if anyone wants to share any of their own stories, please do so using the comments feature.

2 Responses to “Sporadic E skip on 2 meters — Rare but Possible”

  1. Kevin W9APE Says:

    HEY TODD, JUST LETTING YOU KNOW THAT I AM SPREADING THE WORD ABOUT THE NETS. I HAVE POSTED A LINK TO YOUR SITE, ALONG WITH A LITTLE SUMMARY ON MY BLOG. MAYBE YOU WILL GAIN A FEW MORE FELLOW HAMS. IT CAN’T HURT. KEVIN (W9APE)

  2. JD Says:

    Good information on E-Skip on 2meters. Exactly what I have been told by others who have worked the band for years. I was successful 2 times last year.

    See you tomorrow, JD/N0IRS