First 2200 Meter VE-JA QSO Claimed
Scott Tilley, VE7TIL, provided this report to the ARRL.
Kunikazu Togashi, JA7NI, in Daisen, Akita, Japan, and Scott Tilley, VE7TIL, of Vancouver, British Columbia, completed a transpacific QSO on 2200 m (137 kHz) on September 28, a first between Canada and Japan. The distance between CN89dk (TIL) and QM09fl (NI) is 7162 km. While not the DX record for 2200 m, it comes in second to the distance achieved by ZM2E and UA0LE in 2004.
Things started off with a surprise as NI copied TIL’s beacon signal 30 minutes before his sunset, something that had never happened during previous tests. What followed was a “quick” exchange of calls and NI's report was received by TIL. Then a very long and deep fade occurred. This happened before to us and we lost each other and an entire night’s sleep!
But that taught us a lesson and we adapted to the deep fading on this path by creating new QSO procedures to deal with the long times it takes to send information and the deep QSB. NI waited patiently, not knowing TIL had copied the calls and his report.
Our procedure was for him to simply wait until he copied something and respond accordingly... Three hours later RO appeared on NI's screen and during one of my crawls out of the operator's bunk to check the waterfall I saw a dot during a pause in transmission and stopped the transmitter. A few minutes later there was an R and TU but not in DFCW but rather QRSS, as a malfunction at NI's end had him scrambling to send QRSS30 by hand, a true test of a CW operator’s skill! He recovered with grace and the QSO was in the bag!
The mode used was dual frequency CW, a form of very slow frequency shift keying that offers a significant time advantage over standard slow Morse code (QRSS). DFCW is read directly off a computer display using software such ARGO by Alberto, I2PHD. The dot lengths used ranged from 30 to 60 seconds.
This QSO caps off months of work by both operators in improving their stations and beacon testing on the path to learn its characteristics.
What is clear to me is the transpacific path on 2200 m is a very viable communication path for amateur experimentation. I'm sure time will demonstrate this further as procedures and equipment improve on both sides of the ocean and the QSO count starts to rise and the time to complete drops.