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.

VE3OT at his loop's loading coil
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!
Steve McDonald, VE7SL, is a regular contributor to and writes from British Columbia, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

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