Although US radio amateurs do not yet have access to 630 meters, Canadian licensees do, and one of them was on the North American end of the first two-way contact between Canada and Australia. Steve McDonald, VE7SL, in British Columbia, Canada, and Roger Crofts, VK4YB, in Queensland, Australia, completed a contact between 1225 and 1319 UTC on September 15 using JT9digital mode. The distance covered was on the order of 7000 miles.
“This morning a historic QSO for the Amateur Service was completed!” commented John Langridge, KB5NJD, who also holds an FCC Part 5 Experimental license WG2XIQ. “This is also the longest two-way QSO on 630 meters ever completed.” The contact took place on 474.300 kHz.
McDonald said band conditions were just good enough to get the job done. “Well, it wasn’t pretty as in ‘pretty-quick,’ but it’s done,” he told Langridge in recounting the contact. “Signals were way down compared to last week, but I was running barefoot only then. Today the full 5 W EIRP helped a lot.” McDonald told ARRL the band “was not particularly good this far north and was much better just a few hundred miles to my south.” He said the band had been improving each day over the past week, “little by little.”
Crofts agreed that he and McDonald had a tough time of it. “It was a real struggle, but finally got there,” he told Langridge in an e-mail. “I thought we were going to miss out because all the big signals had taken a dive. Obviously the path to VE7 was still hanging in there.”
McDonald said his antenna is “basically about the size of a 160 meter inverted L, but over extremely poor ground,” while Crofts, with what McDonald described as “a monster antenna” was doing the heavy lifting for the contact. McDonald was using a transverter that VK4YB had sent him for beta testing, driving an LF MOSFET amplifier converted for 630 meter use.
Meanwhile. Joe Lowe, NU6O, in California, reports that Crofts also heard his WI2XBQ Experimental Service beacon on September 14. “I was running 0.5 W ERP, 50 W TPO, into a 43 foot vertical in the backyard,” he told ARRL. “Very low power and simple equipment are capable of DX on 630 meters!” Lowe said he was using WSPR mode.
An April 2015 FCC Report and Order, Order, and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking(R&O/NPRM) proposed a new secondary 630 meter MF allocation at 472 to 479 kHz to Amateur Radio, implementing decisions made at WRC-12. It also allocated 135.7 to 137.8 kHz to the Amateur Service on a secondary basis. A Report and Order is pending.