Monday, 11 January 2016

The 1st Annual Midwinter 630m Activity Weekend

Following late fall's very successful 630m Activity / CW Crossband Weekend in November, several enquiries were soon received asking "when's the next one?" I'm happy to announce that the 'next one' will be held on the first weekend of February and will follow a similar format. 

Here is the formal press release describing the event published in the ARRL News:


US and Canadian radio amateurs and experimenters will join forces in February for the first Midwinter 630 Meter Activity Weekend. The event will get under way on February 6 at 0000 UTC (Friday, February 5, in US time zones) and run through 2359 UTC on February 7.

“This event is being undertaken because of the new and quickly growing interest in present 630 meter activities, both in the US and Canada,” said  ARRL 600 Meter Experimental Group (WD2XSH) Experiment Coordinator Fritz Raab, W1FR. “Much of the interest is in response to the strong likelihood of US amateurs receiving access to the band in the near future, while Canadian hams are eager to learn more about the present level of Amateur Radio activity on their newest ham band.” The activity weekend comes on the heels of a special event operation over the November 13-14 weekend that included participation by US and Canadian radio amateurs.and the Maritime Radio Historical Society (MRHS).

Raab said the two activity nights will offer interested amateurs in both countries an opportunity to experience the 630 meter band and, through cross-band activity with Canadian amateurs, to take part in activity in the MF spectrum. “Our hope is to see this activity become an annual operating event, to be held very winter on the 630 meter band,” Raab said. “For those who may be building for future 630 meter operation, this event will provide an opportunity to test your ‘receive’ capabilities on MF.”

Operation will be from 472 kHz to 479kHz in various modes. The two-way crossband work will be undertaken by several Canadian stations, all on CW. Canadians will operate on a schedule and listen for callers on specific QSX frequencies in the US ham allocations.

Station: VO1NA (Joe) GN37 Torbay, Newfoundland
Time: 2130Z - 0130Z both Friday night (Feb 5 - 6Z) / Saturday night (Feb 6 - 7Z) plus QRSS3 / 12 WPM Beacon from 0130 – 1000Z
TX Frequency: 477.7 kHz
RX (QSX) Frequency:
3562 kHz

Station: VE7SL (Steve) CN88 Mayne Island, B.C.
Time: 0200Z - 0700Z both Friday night (Feb 6Z) / Saturday night (Feb 7Z)
TX Frequency: 473.0 kHz
RX (QSX) Frequency:
3566 / 7066 kHz

Station: VE7BDQ (John) CN89 Delta, B.C.
Time: 0330Z - 0700Z both Friday night (Feb 6Z) / Saturday night (Feb 7Z)
TX Frequency: 474.0 kHz
RX (QSX) Frequency:
3555 kHz

Station: VA7MM (Mark) CN89 Coquitlam, B.C.
Time: 0500Z - 0700Z Friday night (Feb 6Z)
          0400Z - 0800Z Saturday night (Feb 7Z)
TX Frequency: 475.0 kHz
RX (QSX) Frequency:
1801 kHz / 3574 kHz / 7062 kHz

Station: VE7CNF (Toby) CN89 Burnaby, B.C.
Time: 0300Z - 0700Z both Friday night (Feb 6Z) / Saturday night (Feb 7Z)
TX Frequency: 476.5 kHz
RX (QSX) Frequency:
1836 kHz / 3558 kHz / 7031 kHz

Station: VE3OT (Mitch) EN92 London, ON.
Time: 0000Z - 0400Z both Friday night (Feb 6Z) / Saturday night (Feb 7Z)
TX Frequency: 477.0 kHz
RX (QSX) Frequency:
3563 kHz / 7058 kHz

Several US Experimental stations also will be in operation throughout the band, in two-way QSO mode with each other, using CW, PSK31, JT9, and QRSS modes. Some stations will also use WSPR and QRSS CW beacon modes.

“The success of this event largely depends upon the participation of as many amateurs as possible,” Raab said. “We hope that you can find a few hours to participate in this unique midwinter event.” Submit reception reports via e-mail to the respective operators or via the ARRL 600 Meter Experiment website.

Hopefully you will be able to participate in the crossband activity by being able to listen on 630m and then able to switch over to HF to transmit. This could involve the use of a separate receiver / transmitter or can often be easily implemented via your transceiver's 'A/B' switch.

No antenna for receiving on 630m? Surprisingly good results can often be had by using a low band wire antenna such as a dipole or inverted-L for listening on 630m ... the antenna does not necessarily need to be resonant. In fact, often times, a non-resonant receiving antenna can provide a better overall S/N ratio than one which is resonant, as these often gather more noise along with signals.

You may want to experiment before hand by listening to many of the numerous U.S. experimental stations operating nightly, mostly in the WSPR mode, between 475.6 and 475.8kHz. Most operators provide a CW identifier following their WSPR transmission but a better way to decode these signals is by installing the latest WSPR software, WSJT-X (freeware), at K1JT's website here. The software works extremely well and is easy to install and get working. If you set the software to 'upload spots', you can share your nightly catches with dozens of other listeners throughout the continent on the WSPRnet website.

courtesy: KB5NJD's 630m Daily Blog
I'll be sending out a few more reminders as the 630m Activity Weekend gets closer but please mark your calendars and make a date to participate, by either sending in your 'heard' reports or by getting on-the-air and working some of the Canadian crossbanders.

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