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Two 160-Meter Events in December Give Nod to 1921 Transatlantic Tests


160-meter operators can revel in two opportunities in December that promise to fill the airwaves with activity to test skills and stations on that band. The events take place a century after the Transatlantic Tests of the 1920s, which ushered in the dawn of international amateur radio communication.

The annual ARRL 160-Meter Contest begins at 2200 UTC on Friday, December 3, and ends at 1559 UTC on Sunday, December 5. This 42-hour CW-only contest is most similar to the original Transatlantic Tests. This contest typically attracts a good crowd and presents a challenge to operator skill and station performance.

The Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) is planning to activate special call signs to commemorate the centenary of the Tests. Stations from the UK and Crown Dependencies will use up to seven different call signs, each having a “6XX” suffix: G6XX, England; GD6XX, Isle of Man; GI6XX, Northern Ireland; GJ6XX, Jersey; GM6XX, Scotland; GU6XX, Guernsey, and GW6XX, Wales. In addition, listen for UK stations appending the suffix “/2ZE” to the station’s call sign. Use of this commemorative suffix has been authorized for use December 1 – 26 by Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator.

On December 12 — and not to be confused with the ARRL 160-Meter Contest — ARRL and the RSGB will jointly sponsoring the 160-Meter Transatlantic Centenary QSO Party. This 6-hour event will run from 0200 to 0800 UTC. The event coincides with the 100th anniversary of the successful Second Transatlantic Tests. Participating stations will operate only on CW, trying to contact the two official call sign activations, W1AW and GB2ZE. At times the stations may listen for callers 1 kHz above their transmitting frequency, to shift the pile-up from their transmit frequency. They may also periodically ask for DX callers only. The exchange is call sign and signal report.

During the QSO Party, ARRL will activate W1AW from Newington, Connecticut. RSGB will activate GB2ZE with help from a team of stations, including members of the GMDX Group of Scotland sharing the operating duties. GB2ZE commemorates the call sign of Paul Godley, 2ZE, who was sent by ARRL to the UK to lead the second Transatlantic Test in December 1921.

W1AW will be active for all 6 hours. Stations operating as GB2ZE will follow this schedule:

  • 0200 UTC, from the commemorative station at Ardrossan, Scotland

  • 0300 UTC, from GM3YTS.

  • 0400 UTC, from GM0GAV.

  • 0500 UTC, from MM0ZBH.

  • 0600 UTC, from MM0GPZ.

  • 0700 UTC, from GM4ZUK until 0800 UTC or until the band closes at sunrise.

The GMDX Group will award a quaich — a traditional Scottish drinking cup representing friendship — to the first stations in North America and the UK to complete contacts with both W1AW and GB2ZE during the QSO Party. A commemorative certificate will be available for download. Participants will not have to submit logs. The official logs from W1AW and GB2ZE will be used to determine the winners and for certificates.

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