Monday, 15 February 2016

Trans-Canada On 630m

Under most circumstances and on most bands, a contact between VE7 and VE3 would not be considered 'exciting' or 'challenging' ... but Saturday night's CW QSO between myself and Mitch, VE3OT in London, Ontario, met both of these criteria, as it was done on our new 630m amateur band on 475.0 kHz. As such, it represents the first-ever interprovincial contact as well as the furthest contact (2031 miles) between two Canadian stations on the 630m band. As usual, there's more to the story ...

Both Mitch and myself had been alerted to the excellent propagation earlier in the week, when VE3OT's CW beacon had reached S9 levels here for several hours on two consecutive nights ... but any late-night QSO attempts would have to wait until the weekend, when having to get up in the middle of the night would not conflict with Mitch's workweek schedule.

Our first attempt, late on Friday night and 3A.M. for Mitch, found that conditions had deteriorated from midweek's enhanced propagation and the low signal levels, combined with some unseasonal lightning noise, resulted in rescheduling for another shot on Saturday.

Late Saturday night found the band much quieter and propagation much improved, but not as good as it had been earlier in the week ... somehow Murphy always seems to have a hand in pre-planned events, and it's never a helpful one. Mitch's beacon signal was readable here but had a deep ten-minute fade cycle with a short-lived peak before fading out to nothing.

Hoping to take advantage of one of the peaks, we began short two-by-two calls from both sides shortly after 0700Z. I eventually heard Mitch fade up and sending a '339' signal report but my response and '559' signal report to him went unanswered as he had faded away again. I continued the short calls, along with my signal report to him and on the next peak heard him responding with 'RRR and 'QSL'! This time his signal continued to build and we had several short exchanges, with Mitch upgrading my RST now to '549' and with me advising of his stronger '569' signal. As the fade cycle took its grip once again, we exchanged our '73's', 'TU's' and 'SK dit-dit's', while we still had the opportunity ... I can't speak for Mitch, but for me it was a truly exciting contact and one I'll not soon forget.

LF / MF station at VE3OT
I'm sure the opportunity to work again will present itself fairly regularly as we both know that Saturday's conditions were not the best. It will be interesting to try again when signal strengths reach the levels previously heard during the week.

For those of you that worked VE3OT during the recent 630m crossband event, Mitch has put together a very special QSL card!

As the solar cycle winds down, the 'good' nights will happen more often, as will the truly 'great' nights. Hopefully there will be more Canadians on the band to take advantage of what lies ahead.

Hopefully the U.S.A. will soon have the band as well, which will really spark nightly activity. What is really needed right now is more Canadian activity, especially in the western provinces, where nightly CW contacts could be readily made. Time to reach for the solder iron! There are several VE7's, and one VE3, waiting and wanting to work you!


Buzz goes to Europe said...

That is very exciting Steve. Wow, this band may be full of surprises. 73 VE7CA

Unknown said...

I have been following the success of Mitch VE3OT beacon and now - a QSO on 630 m. Congratulations! My friend Steve VA3SRC has been monitoring the beacon from Burlington, On and says that it has very good signal levels. I look forward to listening from Kingston, ON when I return in the spring.

I would like to learn more about Mitch's 340' loop as this seems an ideal antenna for a small space. I have a 25 acres island in Georgian Bay from which I would like to try a 630 m beacon. I am the owner of the Manhattan style transmitter that Steve built for 2200 m. With a different crystal and revised tank circuit I should be able to put this on 630 m.

My plan is to try the low power tx (2 1/2 watts) with a loop or dipole on 630 to see if anyone can hear me. I have received a new keyer chip that will send VA3KAH in QRSS mode as well as at normal speed.

All that I will need is some wire and to string the right antenna. Anyone with ideas is free to suggest what this might be. I know that I need to build a tuner, but what design? Horizontal is better for me as I have the real estate, and am limited by the height of the trees to about 30'. I am hoping to run the beacon full time, assuming that it does not interfere with anyone.


Steve McDonald said...

Ian - Thanks Ian. I'll send you some comments via your e-mail address.