ARRL 160 / 630m DX

courtesy: http://www.arrl.org/

This weekend's ARRL 160m CW was a ton of fun.

Conditions were unusually good, which always makes things more interesting.




I ended up with 412 contacts in 78 out of 83 ARRL sections. If I was attempting a WAS on Topband, I would have made it to 48, missing just Nebraska and Rhode Island. Oddly enough, RI was my 50th state when I completed my original 160m WAS, back in 1984, which was certificate #225.

That was done from my tiny 33' wide suburban lot, using the same antenna that I have now, a half-sloper. My radials were strung around all four edges of the property line and just lay on the ground or were stapled to the fenceposts. The power came from a pair of 6146's and was just a little less than I used in the contest this weekend as I entered in the Low Power (150W) category ... however, back then it took me several winters to finish my Topband WAS as there was a lot less activity than there is nowadays it seems. The only other sections missed during the contest were Puerto Rico, Newfoundland and North New York.

With a fairly dormant Sun and the 'almost-quiet' geomagnetic conditions of late, good propagation continued into the week ... in fact, Sunday night was the best I have ever observed on 630m!

Such stable conditions here on the west coast always favor the east-west and polar paths and Sunday proved that in spades. Overall, 53 different stations reported reception of my 630m signal, more than any previous overnight period.

The highlight however, was the reception of my signal in Europe, with five decodes from LA2XPA on Kalvoya  Island off the southwest coast of Norway. Rolf has an exceptional location and nice beverage antennas so most of the heavy-lifting was being done on his end. However, without the co-operation of the propagation gods, none of this would be possible. To make things even better, John, VE7BDQ, also made it across to Norway as his small station continues to perform amazingly well. As I mentioned in an e-mail earlier today, his is the textbook example of what can be done on 630m with a small suburban backyard, some homebrewing skills and a small antenna system.

courtesy: http://wsprnet.org/drupal/wsprnet/map

The WSPRnet map shown here illustrates just how many folks are tuning in every night to this part of the spectrum ... with many getting instantly hooked. Hopefully this great propagation is just a small taste of what lies ahead for us over the next several years of low solar activity.
Steve McDonald, VE7SL, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from British Columbia, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

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