In late March, Paul Kelley, N1BUG, of Milo, Maine, completed what may have been the first transatlantic 2200-meter contact by a US radio amateur under Amateur Radio rules. Signals in this part of the spectrum and lower previously have spanned the Atlantic in one direction, and Canadian radio amateurs have reported transatlantic contacts on the band dating back several years.
“To the best of my knowledge this is the first transatlantic two-way QSO from the US on 2200 meters under Part 97 operation,” said Kelley, who told ARRL that he gravitates toward the more challenging, “weak-signal” aspects of Amateur Radio and has been experimenting and DXing for 37 years now.
“2200 meters is my new passion, and I am having a lot of fun with it!” he said. I had been dreaming of — and working toward — a transatlantic QSO on 2200 meters for some time. Recently, I asked Chris Wilson, 2E0ILY, if he would be interested in trying to work me on DFCW60 mode. Chris and I have heard each other on WSPR, but he does not hear me well enough yet for a JT9 or other digital QSO. Chris agreed to try DFCW60 — dual-frequency CW, 60 second dit length.”
This was not a quick contact. It took four nights to complete, using night-by-night sequencing. Kelley called that “the minimum possible time” for such a contact, which included an exchange of complete call signs, signal reports, and acknowledgements. Kelley said they used the TMOR reporting system, borrowed from the moonbounce world.
“The QSO was completed at 0020 UTC March 28 when I received ‘R’ from Chris,” Kelley said.
He noted that the weather did not cooperate on his first night of transmitting, with snow squalls affecting antenna tuning. “Fortunately, I have a remotely controlled variometer at the antenna,” he told ARRL. “Otherwise, I could not have kept the transmitter going — or alive — that night. For over 2 hours, I had to tweak it almost every key down — roughly every 90 seconds.” Things calmed down to the point where he only had to adjust it every 10 to 15 minutes.
Kelley’s 2200-meter station consists of a QRP Labs Ultimate 3S transmitter, a home-built single FET 200 W class E amplifier, and a 90-foot top-loaded vertical antenna. “This gives me no more than 0.5 W EIRP, probably less,” he said.
For receiving, he uses a 30-foot “low-noise” vertical, homebrew band-pass filter, preamp, and a modified Softrock Lite II software-defined radio receiver kit, with the local oscillator modified for coverage on 2200, the front-end filter modified, and additional filter sections added.
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