Wow, look at you! You've completed working all 488 grid squares in the lower 48 on Satellites, and you've gone out and roved to a whole bunch of your neighboring grids with your trusty arrow and that pair of 817s or your new 9700. You've achieved one of the great feats in VHF/UHF and you've helped other get there too.
OK well maybe not. Granted, I'm writing this entry today because of another friend recently hitting the gridmaster milestone, and of course I hit it a few years back, but I know there's just a lot of random folks who like to go out and rove, and especially in the Satellite world roving has become just part of the community. My goal here is to share how I'd like to see mentality become part of the 6m community too. Why? Well strap in, and let's break it down.
What is 6?
6 Meters is the lowest frequency VHF band (or highest frequency of the HF bands, depending on where you draw the line) and so it has a lot in common with the 2m band that Amsat operators are well and familiar with. The wavelengths are short, so you can use it with manageable sized Yagis for high directionality and gain. It's great for Tropospheric duct style openings like 2m is, and you've got a lot of bandwidth in the Amateur portion (4mhz) so there's plenty of room to spread out with different modes, there's even some repeaters around on 6m. Chasers on 6 are mostly concerned with collecting grid squares, like they are on Sats and the other VHF bands. The VUCC award applies on 6 (and is highly sought after) and the ultimate prize for US based 6m operators is the 'Fred Fish Memorial Award' which is given to anyone working the 488 / 488 grid squares in the lower 48 on 6m. It is the 6m equivalent of Gridmaster, and just as (if not more) prestigious than gridmaster.
Why Rove on 6?
Alright, I'm in.. what now?
The other big thing to consider with your rig is ease of use with digital modes - ie will it connect to a laptop. Sure, you can go out for a few months a year and catch some nice SSB opening on 6m and talk on a microphone all the live long day. But more often than not, like with HF, the action is on the WSJT modes. They make the best use of the weak signal properties of 6m propagation, and you also get the ability to do things like high speed meteor scatter, which is more or less impossible with a mic unless you have 2 pretty skilled ops following very particular procedures. So, you can use your old standby rig, but you'll probably need a digital sound interface for it, like a Signalink. The newest of the new HF+6 rigs like the 991 and 7300 have a soundcard built in, so all you have to do is plug in a single usb cord to your laptop and voila - instant digi modes. I highly recommend this approach, especially when roving, because less cords and less stuff is just easier to manage. Been there, done that.