Thursday, June 11, 2009

First 2m Sporadic-E

Today, I worked my first 2m Sporadic-E contacts. Actually, it is the first 2m Sporadic-E I have worked for at least 25 years, possibly even longer, as I was really only operational on 2m SSB for a few years in the 1970s until I was forced to leave the parental home with its rotatable Jaybeam, apart from a short period in the early 80s when I was able to put a 9-element Tonna up.

First contact at 1251z was with EA5/DC6IR in Denia, who was 59, and gave me 55. I then called EA5TT several times. He was a strong signal, but clearly was not hearing me. My second contact was with EA2AGZ at 1309z, with whom I exchanged 59 reports. His signal was extremely strong, showing 10dB over 9 at times, and he was audible for nearly half an hour altogether. The only other station I heard was EA2DK, but he didn't hear me, and his signal soon disappeared.

It's always a thrill to work real DX on 2 metres, but this was particularly pleasing for me because it was the first 2m DX I have ever heard at this QTH. From my location on the far side of the Lake District mountains I never hear anything from the rest of England, even during periods of high activity such as a contest, while the mountains across the Solway in Dumfries and Galloway block any signals from the north. So I didn't know until today whether it was worth having 2m gear at all. The antenna was the Moxon Rectangle and the power output was 25 watts. I have a small rotator which I bought on eBay so one of my next jobs will be to set that up so that I can turn the Moxon - currently it is fixed pointing south east which probably didn't help with this opening to Spain which is more or less due south.

As 2m went quiet I switched to 6m, and made a few nice contacts there. I worked C37NL (Andorra) twice, once on CW and then again "by accident" on SSB. He was extremely loud, and calling CQ with no takers for much of the time. Although he was working pileup style (even though there was no pileup) and not inclined to chat, I presume the operator was Jose, EA7KW, who according to the 6metersonline website has been invited by the Andorran Amateur Radio League to operate on 6m from June 8th to June 14th from its brand new shack for the specific purpose of enabling people to work Andorra on Six.

The other noteworthy contact was one with Dave, EA6/M0DLL on the island of Menorca. It's always nice to work fellow Brits abroad. He mentioned that the weather was glorious there, which - unusually for the Lake District - it also was at this QTH. In fact, considering how often I complain about our weather I really ought not to be indoors in front of the radio when it the sun is out.

But I wouldn't have wanted to miss that 2m opening for anything. Today was a real ham radio day to remember.
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