Last fall HCRA and SOTA Jerks put forth a 630 meter challenge to our members. The idea and rules were simple. Get people interested in operating on the new band and offer a $100 prize for achieving the longest confirmed QSO. Yes, there were other rules but lets keep it simple. We’re all about simple!
Staying with simple we’ll let the operators tell their own story.
Bob/WA1OJN – First Place and wins the $100 prize!
“It’s been a Hell of a ride, and I really enjoyed it! Thanks for the motivation, got me back to the basics on Ham Radio and I learned a lot! Met some great people and had a lot of fun.”
“My longest confirmed QSO ( and the longest in general) was W7UIV in WA state at 2296.96 miles by the link you provided.”
“My longest WSPR that was received by another station was LA2XPA in Norway at 3383.5 miles. See attached PDF. I know this doesn’t count as a QSO, but pretty amazing. Total of 54 QSOs: JT9(51), FT8(2) and CW(1).”
“All done with a Kenwood TS-440 feeding a WA3ETD 25W converter. Antenna is converted 80M dipole 136 horizontal, 25 feet vertical with home made variometer.”
Thanks for the great effort Bob and glad to see you had fun. As an added bonus Bob will be showing off parts of his 630m station at HCRA’s April 6th Show & Tell meeting – don’t miss it!
“First off, a big congratulations to Bob for his outstanding efforts into 630 meters. 54 QSO’s are indeed impressive, there’s not a lot of unique stations to work (yet) on the MF bands. I was quite surprised with the distances possible with low power and small antennas. Some said, “will you even be able to make a QSO across town?”. I guess the answer is YES!”
“I ended up with 29 QSO’s, JT9(25, CW (3) and FT8 (1). I could hear a lot farther than I could work with only 20 watts going into an inverted L antenna. The vertical portion of the antenna is 80′, horizontal about 175′, fed through a fixed tuned loading coil and a half dozen ‘on ground’ radials. My farthest QSO was with ZF1EJ in the Cayman Islands, a distance of 1668 miles. That means Bob only whipped me by 628 miles! Oh well….”
“My station consists of an Elecraft K3s, MFSolutions down converter modified to be a simple 20W amplifier and an Inverted L antenna. Most receiving was done on a 650′ reversible beverage.”
Nick modified his IC-735 to work on 630 meters. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to get a viable antenna built before winter arrived. He ended up making one CW QSO with Jim, KK1W, confirmed on LotW for a distance of 7 miles. Hopefully Nick will be up and running on 630 next fall and making lots of digital QSO’s
Al didn’t have time to put together a transmit station but received a QSL from AA1A for a beacon reception: Here’s the details:
I am hearing your AA1A beacon on 473.9 KHz. I’m listening with an old IC-706, antenna is a 160m inverted L. The signal does not indicate on my S-meter, and is pretty close to the noise level, but I don’t expect this rig to be much good at receiving at this frequency. According to QRZ.com I am 105 miles from you in FN32qq. This is my first go at doing anything on this band. I have a few other projects to finish before I try to make a transmitter. I wonder what you are using for transmitter and antenna?”
“Maybe you have already heard, one of the clubs I belong to is sponsoring a VLF contest. The info is on their website: https://hcra.org/
“Hi Al, QSL 474 cw and that was a rare CW beacon try, am usually on WSPR for automatic unattended operation. The TX is a IC718 feeding a home brew transverter then in to a PA amp then directly in to the wire vertical loop, forget radials and variometers!!… That is interesting hcra page, let’s get going and show them how its done, eh?? You will need a few dozen watts minus antenna efficiency to come out @ 5W radiated, also you are in the side null of my loop so that’s pretty good receiving…”
N1AW DE AA1A TNX Al
Frandy listened with his K3 for KK1W’s CW signal on 630m and was able to copy it, a distance of 27 miles. KK1W, being lazy, didn’t send a SWL card.
James did a lot of listening on 630 meters with his Kenwood TS-590. Unfortunately the 590, like the K3s, only generates about 0.5 milliwatts on 630 meters. That’s just not enough power to run barefoot on 630. I’m not sure if James was able to copy signals from either me or Bob, but I think he did. If so the distances would be 37 and 8 miles respectively.
That about wraps it up for our first 630 meter challenge. Thanks to HCRA and the SOTA Jerks for contributing $50 from each club towards the prize and allowing us the opportunity to run the challenge. Everyone learned from their efforts: building and tuning antennas for 630m, designing and building loading coils, modifying radios and amplifiers, learning new digital modes, understanding MF propagation… the list goes on. Our entrants elected not to ‘sit on the sidelines’ but get active and try new things. Not everything worked as planned but, in the end they were successful and had fun. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
Good luck with your amateur radio adventures in 2018!