This is strictly anecdotal but I wanted to briefly document something that happened last night during my CW sked with Steve, KF5RYI, who has been operating CW with me as WG2XIQ/1 per a unique feature of my Part 5 grant. The details of Steve’s station are here.
I mentioned it to the guys in the ON4KST chat that I would be QSYing to 474.5 kHz for a CW sked and Eric, NO3M / WG2XJM indicated that he would be listening. Eric and I have worked a lot of CW on 630-meters and have had a large number of QSO’s over the last few years. Eric and I had tried to make a Q earlier in the evening but the intense noise either from the storms in the east or the recent solar activity was making for tough copy. Deep fades were the killer and I noticed that I was constantly switching to different receive antennas to keep up with the changing conditions – the rotary switch is worn out!
Steve and I started out our QSO with the usual banter (Its nice to QSO someone you know as it opens up all sorts of opportunities for discussions that you might not have with a stranger). Eric indicated in the ON4KST chat that he was hearing two distinct CW tones (Steve was about 50 Hz high) and based on his play-by-play it was obvious that he was detecting both sides of the QSO between me and Steve. Steve and I chatted for about 30 minutes, which is typical for our morning and evening skeds and we called it a night. I called Eric on 474.5 kHz but the band had shifted. No QSO was to be had between Western PA and Texas that night.
Its pretty remarkable that Eric was hearing Steve’s 1-watt TPO to the very unconventional antenna. Eric was using a lot of receiving horsepower, notably the south west beverage array in diversity with the 8-circle vertical array. While Eric’s system is generally accepted to be the largest 630-meter receive installation in the world, the cards were stacked against him with the fades, generally poor conditions, and overwhelming noise. And lets not forget Steve’s 8 to 12-foot tall coax “vertical” with 40-meter delta loop top loading fed against a single 30-foot radial and ground rod. Steve’s ERP was probably only microwatts. This accomplishment is a pretty big deal and just shows the power of Eric’s system as well as how well very low power levels can work in the hands of committed, experienced operators.
Future improvements to Steve’s station include the addition of a very small amp (even 5-watts can make a big difference at the very low levels currently being used and still be safe) and a receive converter to improve the receive capabilities of the KX3. Steve likes building kits so maybe the $14 Jackson Harbor Press converter will be something he is interested in.
CW skeds continues almost every night on 474.5 kHz around 0230z and every morning at 1030z.