A very unexpected QSO

On Friday evening I was just heading up to bed and I did my usual check on VHF/UHF to see what was happening. The FM box stopped on 145.7375. The normal station there is GB3AL but the station I could hear seemed to be in France – or at least the stations using the repeaters were. Signals were fairly weak but seemed to be fading up and down. I kept listening and the box identified; F1ZPL. A quick Google search and I was amazed. The repeater is in JN24WB – over 500 miles from me!

Could I make a QSO through it? I disabled my CTCSS so that when I transmitted I wouldn’t bring up GB3AL. I waited for a break in the conversation (in French) and dropped my call in. There was a pause and then I was welcomed in English!
Having had a short QSO, I was delighted to almost immediately get an e-mail from one of the group. It was also fun to get an e-mail from 2W0EAD, Alan near Newport, who could also copy the repeater.
I checked the details of F1ZPL and it is at(from memory) around 1600m ASL. The coverage area includes the Meditteranean coast. Amazing!
I’m sure this was my most distant ever 144MHz tropo QSO on FM!
Tim Kirby, G4VXE, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Oxfordshire, England. Contact him at [email protected].

One Response to “A very unexpected QSO”

  • Fred W0FMS:

    It’s a *lot* of fun to work tropo. In the late 80’s I worked Mexico City from Chicago on FM on 2m… every once in awhile it can happen. Next time try 70cm and above too– tropo is actually more enhanced the higher in frequency you go (to a limit). Tropo makes an air waveguide.. for 2m and 6m to work in that “waveguide” you have to have a pretty physically big duct.. therefore 70cm, 1296, etc can work better.

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