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Joe Pater is the newsletter editor. If you have news to contribute,
please send it to Joe at: W8GEX@aol.com
April 29, 2017
I recently published an article about a contact I made with Paul A65DR.
Below is Paul's side of our QSO. I feel it's worth this special addition of my Newsletter.
From Paul A65DR about those 60m QSOs, and the wider aspects of A6 getting 60m:
"Failure only ever has one cause: Giving up!"
Having read Joe's entry in his 60m newsletter about my QSO's with K6EID/W8GEX, and also N5DG, I thought I would write a little about the DX side of those things here in A6.
When I read that the agenda for WARC 2015 included a proposal for a new 60m worldwide band for ham radio I was quite excited at the prospect of a new band being a hybrid of 40 and 80m. It thought it would be great to get that 200khz-wide band. Then came the news at the end of the conference and I was very disappointed that all we had got was 15khz at 15w iERP. I never really got the attraction of the number 15 - WARC 15, 15khz, 15w. Bah humbug. I thought the allocation was pathetic and decided to put it out of my mind.
Then in about September 2016 I noticed on a routine check that the 'WARC 15/15/15' was allocated to A6 hams. I wasn't following developments because the allocation had caused me to lose interest in 60m. I thought it would be not worth the effort. I was not a JT65 or QRP enthusiast at that time. But since we had the allocation, and my TS590 was US specs with 60m open, all I needed was a usable antenna and I could use the band. It turned out after testing that my rig's internal ATU would tune my full size 40m GP for the new band. Woo-hoo - I could be on air. and I would easily reach my 15w iERP limit even with the rig ATU inline.
I had some practise QSO with A65DC to test things out and in Nov 2016 I was on 60m international.
Contrary to what I thought - that the WARC allocation would make the band uninteresting to me, I found the extra challenge of the limitations added to the interest of the band. The 15/15 would really add to the character of the band and make it more satisfying to make the difficult QSOs. I never anticipated that, so lesson learned. 60m is great because of the difficulty WARC has set upon us. mmm. Maybe I'll take another look at 160...
As it happens, I wake early for work (day shifts) two days per week. So a little earlier alarm gives me some radio time during the (very) early morning in A6, which is evening in Eastern USA/Canada. For me we are talking on the radio 0400-0520 local time, which might explain why I'm usually the only A6 on their air at that time. It is a good time for radio on the DX path - EU is sleeping (as is most of Russia and the Middle East). So it means I can have QSO with NA/Central America/Caribbean/South America with no 'EU wall' in the way. I have had great radio at this time. The early bird catches the worm.
After a couple of mornings on JT65 60m I got the first email reporting my reception in NA and asking for a QSO. Well, it is no favor for me - I wanted the QSO to NA also. I think it was K8MFO. We made the QSO, but by then there was a queue. VE9 and more Eastern USA was wanting A6. It is sure nice to be popular...
Well we all like to be popular and we have all enjoyed help from fellow hams, so it was easy to 'pay it forward'. I was very happy to keep the requesters informed when I was gonna be on the band early. One by one, they all got their QSOs and LotW confirmations.
But K6EID and W8GEX stayed outstanding. It bothered be that these polite patient gentlemen were still waiting.
I built an N6RK Rx loop to help my receiving (I don't have space for a beverage).
Still, I never managed to work the two patient stations. It was not acceptable to quit. I remember early on that I was quite sure of myself. We just needed a good day. But as time moved on, winter (and the good darkness overlap) was running out, I had real doubts. Still, we had to keep trying. Maybe, just maybe, after all the disappointing mornings we might get a miracle. As time went on my hope dwindled and I really wondered if I had been way too optimistic. My 15w iERP limit was hurting. My NA requesters had good Rx setups, but it was proving just too difficult.
Then comes a day that gives me vivid memories. I was really quite tired and needed to catch up on sleep, so I unusually decide to set my alarm for 5am instead of 4am. By the time I had made coffee and reached the shack it was obvious this was a very good radio day. My JT65 decode history was extra rich, and I think included K6EID as well as many other new ones. Unfortunately it was equally obvious that I had missed it and anyway it was time to get ready for work. I was racked with guilt. We had been trying for two months, many times we had tried and failed. And here it was, the golden good day had arrived and I had chosen to sleep instead. I gave myself a good mental slapping for that. But,,, what could I do now? The only thing I could think of was to try the next day and cross my fingers that the good conditions stayed for a second day. Not a normal early start for me, but I felt like I was in debt and had let my new friends down. I really hoped I could make this better. So even though it was a night shift the next day, I was gonna be awake from 0400.
When the next day arrived I was awake and staggered to the kettle at 0345. I was not going to be beaten again this day. "please, radio gods, be nice to us this morning"...
As the band was opening I worked K6EID. That was amazing to me. We tried and failed for many overs, but when the band came good and I was watching the waterfall moving slowly with the faint trace, waiting to see if it would decode and confirm the QSO. I was conscious at that point that I had a prominent beating heart. This blew me away - how could JT65 be this exciting. It has its good points, but excitement is not one of them. None the less, here I was after two months with my blood coursing, waiting for this decode. I'll have to call this 'slow exciting'. The decode did come through and the QSO was confirmed. Now for W8GEX. "Please, lets wrap this up...."
N5DG had called and as this was also a challenging station (being further West) we exchanged reports and that QSO was done. Straight back to W8GEX, could this be hat-trick morning?
It took a while longer, but eventually W8GEX was receiving me. OK, one way was working. All I needed was one over with my report and I could then return a report to W8GEX and make it a royal morning. I remember emailing W8GEX - "just my report. Gimme all you got!".
Then I got it. One decode with my report of -17. I received that at -21. All Joe needed was my report back to him and it was done. The return report was right away with W8GEX having a better receive setup. That was it - we had done it, with only one decode (ever) on my end from W8GEX.
Yes, it was a super radio morning with magic conditions. But the people who wanted it enough were all there on the radio to catch it. And most importantly for me, I could stop feeling guilty for sleeping in the previous morning.
In all my time on 60m I have had one, just one, decode of W8GEX. This includes countless nights/mornings when I left my radio and PC going, and searched the decode logs for the callsign. It is a testament to perseverance that with just one decode with a signal report we were able to make that QSO. I was stoked, as my antipodean cousins would say.
In the big picture of the annals of ham radio this QSO doesn't add up to a hill of beans, but for Joe and I it is a moment that will live with us as long as we are radio hams.
Here's a jpg that is a treasure of my ham radio media:
So there is was. A hat-trick morning and three more low power QSO to USA.
I was smiling for a couple of days...
And that last statement tells you why I don't deserve thanks or credit from the NA stations - it was just as satisfying and fun for me.
Good DX to all,
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