Discussion:
Topband: Notes on early JA to East Coast QSO's
(too old to reply)
John Kaufmann
2004-01-21 12:35:26 UTC
Permalink
Since the band has opened this week to JA from New England for the first
time this season, it brings to mind some of the early attempts to work Japan
from New England on 160. Here's my attempt to reconstruct a little of that
history.

W1BB tried for years to be the first W1 to work JA but never made it. I
visited Stew in 1973 at his famous Winthrop, MA seaside QTH. He told me
then that he had been heard in Japan but the problem was the QRM from LORAN
in those days. JA had been worked as far east as W8 at that time. (I
believe that it was done by WA8IJI, now better known as W8JI...)

The first JA to "east coast" (W1/W2/W3) QSO that I know of was made by K2GNC
in February 1981, when he worked several JA's around his sunrise. It's
documented at http://www.topbander.com/w1bb.htm. Does anyone know if K2GNC
is still around?

W1FC (Fred) set out to become the first W1 to work JA from his Carlisle, MA
QTH, a few miles from me. He kept skeds with JA6IEF on 80 meters. When the
signals were good, they would move to 160 to give it a try there. Finally
they made it one morning in 1983 or 1984. Fred played for me an audio
recording he made of the event. It was amazing how clearly IEF was coming
through on 160 that morning. I believe that Fred's 160 antenna at the time
was a single 1/4-wave vertical, although I think he later experimented with
a 4-square with 1/8-wave spacing.

The next W1 to make it was KM1H in Pelham, NH. He worked JA3BCT about a
year or two later in one of the contests (CQWW I believe). I haven't heard
Carl on the band for a number of years now, but I'm told he has been active
on VHF.

I'm not sure about the third New Englander to do it, but I think it might
have been Dana, W1CF. In the early 1980's, W1CF and W1FC, who were
colleagues at Microwave Associates (later M/A-Com) started the Colatchco
Company, which sold a line of low-band vertical antennas, along with a
phasing box for 4-squares, using a hybrid coupler as the 90-degree phasing
element. I believe W1FC is credited with having invented the popular
4-square design and, if I'm not mistaken, the 4-square phasing box now sold
by Comtek is based on the early Colatchco unit. In any case, Dana wanted to
duplicate Fred's achievement, so he put up a 2-element vertical array, using
61-foot Colatchco verticals on 160. It was a prototype of a system that
Colatchco had developed, but I'm not sure that they ever sold. Dana would
call "CQ JA" morning after morning, listening in the JA window. Finally one
morning, JA1CGM answered him.

I worked my first JA on January 15, 1987. I had been hearing JA's at my
sunrise for several days prior, but I was unable to break through the
stations to the west. Finally on that morning the propagation favored New
England and starting at 1200Z, I logged 4 JA's: JA3ONB, JR1CFG, JA1CGM, and
JA1GTF. Somebody told me that there were only something like a half dozen
W1's who had ever worked JA on 160 before I did. The JA window was crammed
with wall-to-wall JA's trying to work the East Coast. It was absolute
bedlam at times. My notes from that period indicate JA's were at least
heard almost every morning for three weeks during that January. I think
that is the best ever extended period of propagation to JA from New England.
Back then I was using the same transmit antenna system I have now: three
1/8-wave verticals with close spacing, fed in phase, with an extensive
ground radial system.

There is one more occasion that really stands out in my mind. December 30,
1995 is by far the best ever single day of propagation from New England to
Japan that I have ever encountered on 160. JA signals were unbelievably
loud, like 20 meters. It was really an isolated freak event because my log
shows no JA QSO's in the days before or after that event. I'm not sure what
was behind this unusual propagation, but I do know that the winter of
1995-1996 was the best low band season of the past decade.

Does anyone else have interesting info to share on this subject?

73, John W1FV
W2pm at aol.com ()
2004-01-21 14:26:36 UTC
Permalink
In a message dated 1/21/04 6:35:53 AM Eastern Standard Time,
Post by John Kaufmann
Does anyone else have interesting info to share on this subject?
In a message dated 1/21/04 6:35:53 AM Eastern Standard Time,
Post by John Kaufmann
Does anyone else have interesting info to share on this subject?
Im just depressed as I can't hear anything when you boys are working those
guys.. I nearly threw my PC out the window the past few mornings looking at all
the JA posts. I wonder why there are not many W2's in the southern NY/NNJ
area working JA? Id normally guess the sigs must be very weak and the ambient
noise around here too high but based on the sig reports Ive seen this seems not
to be the case..
tombaugh
2004-01-21 15:45:13 UTC
Permalink
Don't get down on yourself. Conditions on 160M can be peculiar. I have not
heard much from JA, BV or other Asia either but ZL and VK have been
relatively strong. I await the time when I can't get a run of Asian stations
too. Time now to get as many listening antennas as you can up in the air in
preparation for the opening that will eventually come. I just hope I have
time to listen when the time comes. Today VK6HD was strong from the NW which
is unusual for me. Things are changing... I just hope that everyone can be
"real" when they start calling and don't get caught up in the excitement
when they can't hear anything. If you've worked them before, give someone
else a chance first. If you can't hear them well enough to copy your own
callsign when they reply, you probably shouldn't be calling. It all starts
with "ME", I plan to be a gentleman, I hope you will too.
Tom Baugh
----- Original Message -----
From: <***@aol.com>
To: <***@alum.mit.edu>; <***@contesting.com>
Sent: Wednesday, January 21, 2004 7:21 AM
Subject: Re: Topband: Notes on early JA to East Coast QSO's
Post by W2pm at aol.com ()
In a message dated 1/21/04 6:35:53 AM Eastern Standard Time,
Post by John Kaufmann
Does anyone else have interesting info to share on this subject?
In a message dated 1/21/04 6:35:53 AM Eastern Standard Time,
Post by John Kaufmann
Does anyone else have interesting info to share on this subject?
Im just depressed as I can't hear anything when you boys are working those
guys.. I nearly threw my PC out the window the past few mornings looking at all
the JA posts. I wonder why there are not many W2's in the southern NY/NNJ
area working JA? Id normally guess the sigs must be very weak and the ambient
noise around here too high but based on the sig reports Ive seen this seems not
to be the case..
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Steve Lawrence
2004-01-21 20:31:15 UTC
Permalink
On Jan 21, 2004, at 5:21 AM, ***@aol.com wrote:

Im just depressed as I can't hear anything when you boys are working
those
guys..
_____________________________________________________

To W2PM:

JAs are easy pickin's from here on the left coast. But JA is just one
country. Imagine chasing your first 100 on Topband from this side and
hearing only noise while watching one after another Eu spots on the
cluster from the east coast deserving. And that's night after night!

Everything - DX included - is relative.

73, Steve WB6RSE
Tom Rauch
2004-01-21 15:02:11 UTC
Permalink
John brings back some memories of earlier Topband years. Many stations are
still active on 160 from that era.

I recently worked Tok JA7AO on 160 for a 31-year span of 160 QSO's!

I worked JA7AO (followed by JA1HKP) in Dec 1972 from Toledo, Ohio to
complete my 160 WAC and my 160 country #68. I believe this was the first JA
to USA east of the Rockies on post WWII 160.

LORAN pulses would almost bury S meters against the pin. Eliminating LORAN
required building a special RF noise blanker (using several vacuum tubes of
course!) and an array of eight loop antennas end-fire phased. The loops were
like a series string of Flag antennas linked end-to-end.

Working JA was a matter of figuring out how to get rid of the LORAN and not
the weak signals under the pulses. My transmitter was a Viking Valiant and
receiver was a modified SX101 with crystal filters in the 1st IF. I recently
found one of the filters with eight FT-243 style crystals I hand-ground to
the SX101 IF frequency, but the blanker is probably long gone!

It amazes me what we did back then with next to nothing.

73, Tom W8JI
John Kaufmann
2004-01-21 16:42:38 UTC
Permalink
Im just depressed as I can't hear anything when you boys are working those guys..
Working JA from the east coast is NEVER easy. It's all about timing. With the exception of those few outstanding years I mentioned before, there are typically just a very few days each year when there is JA propagation here, generally in December-January. You have to be on EVERY morning, hoping to hit one of the right days. Then when the right day comes along, there's just a very short window, maybe 10 to 20 minutes long, when the JA's are workable, usually starting just before sunrise. There's also an element of luck, as well as some skill, in breaking the piles because people to the west almost always have better propagation. However, I've managed to sneak in a few JA QSO's over the years because the JA's would standby specifically for W1's. Good luck!

73, John W1FV
Bernie McClenny, W3UR
2004-01-21 20:30:46 UTC
Permalink
W1FV said "Working JA from the east coast is NEVER easy. It's all about
timing."

One thing I have noticed over the years is that typically you can expect a
second opening 27 or 28 days afterwards. John is correct it is all about
timing and if you are like most people you probably can't be on every day.
Get on when you can, but try real hard to be on 27 or 28 days after a good
opening! It might be a good idea to listen on February 14, 15 and 16.

?????
(sayounara)
Bernie, W3UR
Jon Zaimes AA1K
2004-01-21 20:31:02 UTC
Permalink
Hi John,

Interesting roundup!

When I was in Shelton, Connecticut, we heard JA3ONB and JA2GQO day after day after day starting in late December of 1980 and through January and February1981, as early as an hour before sunrise and as late as a half-hour after. Even heard them as late as April that year, just before we moved to Delaware. No JA QSOs though. We had just 100 watts to a shunt-fed 70-ft tower; and the only useful Beverages for them were due West and due South. I think they were running higher power. I did work VS6DO one morning though. Later I received an SWL card from a UA0 on Sakhalin from early January.

My first JA QSOs -- JA3ONB and JA2GQO -- came in 1983 from my Bear, Delaware, QTH.

73/Jon AA1K
Post by John Kaufmann
Does anyone else have interesting info to share on this subject?
73, John W1FV
Earl W Cunningham
2004-01-21 22:17:33 UTC
Permalink
My first Topband QSO with JA was back in 1971 when I was W5RTQ in
Houston. It was shortly after I bought a new Drake C-line, and the R-4C
noise blanker did an outstanding job on the Loran, making the QSO
possible. Just being able to hear JA was an immense thrill.
Subsequently worked numerous JAs from there. VS6DO was always prevalent,
too.

Of course, now from California, JAs are commonplace (like EU from the
east coast) and still a thrill to hear them.

The best ever EU (by far) opening I recall from here to EU was the night
of the 1997 Stew Perry contest. Working GM3POI who was 30 over 9 an hour
before my sunset and 4X4NJ for Asia the hard way that night (along with
many EUs), will always be remembered.

73, de Earl, K6SE
Ron Spencer
2004-01-22 01:05:58 UTC
Permalink
It is fun to reminisce isn't it. From the west coast (San Diego) I remember
my first European on 160. It was, if I recall correctly, EI5H (lots of
dits!!). My antenna was an Alpha Delta twin sloper for 40/80/160. What was
remarkable was it was hung from a 40' tower with the last part of the 160
leg kind of wandering around the back yard as I didn't have enough room to
fully stretch it out. AND, that was the receiving antenna as well! Thank
goodness EI5H had great ears!

Still waiting to hear the first JA of the season here in North Carolina.

Ron
N4XD
Ve6wz_Steve
2004-01-22 01:06:13 UTC
Permalink
Post by Steve Lawrence
JAs are easy pickin's from here on the left coast. But JA is just one
country. Imagine chasing your first 100 on Topband from this side and
hearing only noise while watching one after another Eu spots on the
cluster from the east coast deserving. And that's night after night!
This is true, but how exciting when we do get those openings !! I think
this is the BENEFIT of the West Coast !! Think of all those DXCC
entities in EU that could be worked when the band does open. Each new
one being a shot of excitement. Just hearing EU on TB can be
thrilling....almost like that first QSO!! The fact that it only happens
a few times a year is exactly what is good about it!! For myself even
working EU on 80m SP is still exciting. The East Coast has somewhat
less to choose from on the equivalent difficult JA path.....poor
East-Coasters : )

BTW, I have always been impressed at how gentlemanly the East Coast
stations have been when we do have an EU opening...usually standing by
patiently as we repeat our call many times trying to get it through.

de steve ve6wz.
Bob Garrett
2004-01-22 01:06:31 UTC
Permalink
Hi John and List,

Well, you sure brought back some wonderful memories for me. My first JA QSO
was with JA6IEF on March 3, 1986 at 11:28Z. He gave me a 559 and I gave him
569, followed at 11:33 by Ogi JA1CGM. We exchanged 559 reports. However,
this success was only after literally being QRV every morning from November
through March of 1985 and the same in 1986 when I finally had a good QSO
with JA. . At that time, my shack was located in a shed near the house and
I used a space heater to warm it up. Let me tell you, I truly earned those
QSO's back then. Now, the shack is in the house and I actually have newer
equipment HI.

John is absolutely correct on the three week span in January of 1987. It
truly sounded like 20 meters some mornings with the JA window just wall to
wall with signals. Truly exciting. And yes, here in PA I haven't heard an
opening near as good since that time. BTW, I was running a Drake C line,
modified Hunter Bandit 2000B amplifier with four very tired 572B tubes.
Max. output was about 500 watts and the antenna was my 60 foot shunt fed
tower with a 204BA and 10/15 dual bander on top. I believe my RX antennas
back then was a W1WCR design two wire beverage with home brewed matching
unit.

73 Bob K3UL Ex WA3EUL
Earl W Cunningham
2004-01-22 04:05:21 UTC
Permalink
I just checked my old log books and found that my first topband QSO with
JA was not from Houston in 1971, but it was on December 3, 1966. But....
I was on Shemya Island in the end of the Aleutians at the time, only 1800
miles from Tokyo. My call was KL7FRY at the time and that QSO with Masa,
JA1PVK was the first ever 160m QSO between JA and KL7. Subsequently many
more JAs were worked.

Not many can boast of a 2xSSB QSO with JA. I worked KA9MF (at that time,
Americans in Japan had KA prefixes) on 1880 kHz on SSB on January 28,
1967! I worked him many times on CW on 1880 kHz, but I never asked him
why he didn't have to stay in the 1907.5 to 1912.5 JA window.

On December 4, 1966 I worked Mick, ZL3RB for my farthest 160m DX (about
7000 miles due south of Shemya) while I was on the island in 1966-67.
That was the first ever ZL/KL7 QSO on 160m.

My farthest east QSO was also my first 160m QSO from there -- Herb, W0VXO
(now KV4FZ) in Minnesota was able to copy my homebrew 100-watter on
October 3, 1966. Herb's big signal from his shunt-fed tower made me
decide that would be the way to go when I got back to the lower 48.

Another memorable QSO from there was on December 11, 1966 when I worked
John, W0GDH (now W5SUS), completing his 160m WAS from Arkansas. John is
now in his 90s, and it's always a thrill to hear his swinging fist on
160m from his Florida QTH.

My antenna there was a 2000-foot long wire 80 feet high. It started at
my room window and ran across the island until I ran out of island. It
was a great antenna on all bands. The rig was my Heathkit SB-400 with an
SB-300 receiver and homebrew transmitting and receiving converters for
160m.

Fond memories!

73, de Earl, K6SE
W8LRL at aol.com ()
2004-01-22 12:37:31 UTC
Permalink
Hi John and Topbanders,

It has been interesting reading about the East Coast to JA qso's, and it
brings back fond memories of the good old days on 160! Back in the mid 1970's, I
remember getting on in the Winter mornings With Stew, W1BB and others to try
to work a JA. The Loran qrm was about 20 to 30 db over S9 much of the time.
Finaly, I was able to buy a new R4C with good filters and a noise blanker.
The noise blanker realy did wonders to lower the Loran qrm down to about S8.
After many days of trying finaly I heard something in the Loran. After a few
QRZ, the call JA3ONB came through at 1203z on Feb. 15, 1976. I gave Yasuo 359
and he gave me 559. Needless to say, this was one of my all time favorite 160
qso's. I'm sad that W1BB never worked a JA on 160!

My QTH in 1976 was Shephardstown, WV which is one mile from Maryland (W3
land) and about 60 miles West of Baltimore, Md in Grid FM19. W3 land in Md/Pa
extends about 200 miles West of my qth. The propogation from here to JA is about
the same as New York and Mass. as the path is through Canada and Alaska from
here. I'm not sure if I am considered East Coast, but if not, then I'm no more
than a mile away! HI

K2GNC, Bill was one the first stations that I worked when I came to 160 in
1972. We had many qso's, and Bill helped me alot to get set up on 160.Tonight, I
looked through my archives and found a picture of Bill at his station, and
another of his vertical. The photos are about 30 years old now, and Bill looked
to be about 55 to 60 then. It's been many years since I have heard K2GNC on
Top Band.

Due to vision problems in my one remaining eye, it is difficult for me to
focus on this screen for very long, so if, any one has replies to me, please be
brief, and I will try to get back to you as soon as possible. Hopefully in the
near future I will be able to set up a WEB site with some old and new 160
photos and info.

Thanks John and all for the interesting reading!
Good Luck And DX on Top Band to All! 73 de Wal, W8LRL
Ragnar Otterstad
2004-01-22 13:11:59 UTC
Permalink
Wally:

Your posting brings back memories of my first USA qso on 160, which was you.
I lived in Oslo suburbia at the time
and used an inverted L per W1BBs instructions. He was kind enough to mail me
a complete drawing of what he felt would be a good beginners choice. I
managed to get the wire over a birch tree on my neighbours land and spread
out an odd number of radials on the rock where out house was.

My first West coast was W7LR and I thought somebody was joking with me.
Working W7 on 160 was something I never had thought would be possible !!
But a letter with qsl and photos of his installation convinced me ! hi


I hope the bigger letters makes the reading easier on your eye !

73


" RAG " LA5HE JW5HE OZ8RO

My photo website:

http://no.photos.yahoo.com/la5he




Located in Telemark - Home of skiing.
For more information about Telemark take a look at :

www.visitTelemark.no for more details.
David Knepper
2004-01-22 14:15:20 UTC
Permalink
I worked Australia on 160 meters with an ordinary 160 meter dipole no more
than 30 feet off the ground using an old HRO-5 receiver and old Globe King
400 transmitter. What does that qualify me for?

My former father-in-law, W3MGU, before he passed away used to work into
Japan on 160 meters on a regular basis. He never thought it was such a big
deal. He has cards from all around the world on 160 meters of the DX that
he worked. He never ran over 100 watts and his antenna was fed with open
wire feeders to two dipoles at right angles from each other.

I think that when the band is open, anything is possible.

I wouldn't think that working DX on 160 meters is such a big deal when using
"super power" - try it with less than 100 watts and relatively simple
antenna as my father-in-law did consistently then you will have bragging
rights.

Dave, W3ST
Secretary to the Collins Radio Association
Publisher of the Collins Journal
www.collinsra.com
----- Original Message -----
From: "Ragnar Otterstad" <***@enter.vg>
To: "Topband" <***@contesting.com>
Sent: Thursday, January 22, 2004 6:54 AM
Subject: : Topband: Notes on early QSO's
Post by Ragnar Otterstad
Your posting brings back memories of my first USA qso on 160, which was you.
I lived in Oslo suburbia at the time
and used an inverted L per W1BBs instructions. He was kind enough to mail me
a complete drawing of what he felt would be a good beginners choice. I
managed to get the wire over a birch tree on my neighbours land and spread
out an odd number of radials on the rock where out house was.
My first West coast was W7LR and I thought somebody was joking with me.
Working W7 on 160 was something I never had thought would be possible !!
But a letter with qsl and photos of his installation convinced me ! hi
I hope the bigger letters makes the reading easier on your eye !
73
" RAG " LA5HE JW5HE OZ8RO
http://no.photos.yahoo.com/la5he
Located in Telemark - Home of skiing.
www.visitTelemark.no for more details.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
----
Post by Ragnar Otterstad
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W2pm at aol.com ()
2004-01-22 23:51:19 UTC
Permalink
Post by W8LRL at aol.com ()
Thanks John and all for the interesting reading!
Good Luck And DX on Top Band to All! 73 de Wal, W8LRL
Thanx Wally and all for the great stories and encouragement. The fact is
despite frustrating situations whenever I work any DX - anywhere in EU or even
W6(!) which is of course duck soup on all the higher bands its still quite a
thrill. My most prized possession is VK6HD's QSL card from a QSO on 1832 2 years
ago - in my shack people think my call is VK6HD because his card is more
prominent that my call plaque. Another great QSO was with a IK6 in mid August one
day couple years ago at 1700 local! I was playing around with a mag loop and
checking its nulling performance against a neighbors pool filter motor when he
was calling CQ - turns out he was S9 plus on the Inv L and didnt need the
loop. Felt like working South America on 2 meters from here in W2 land.
W3GCG at aol.com ()
2004-01-22 23:51:26 UTC
Permalink
This post might be inappropriate. Click to display it.
Logan Dietz
2004-01-22 23:52:00 UTC
Permalink
-----Original Message-----
From: topband-***@contesting.com [mailto:topband-***@contesting.com]
On Behalf Of David Knepper
Sent: Thursday, January 22, 2004 6:58 AM
To: Ragnar Otterstad; Topband
Subject: Re: Topband: Notes on early QSO's

I worked Australia on 160 meters with an ordinary 160 meter dipole no more
than 30 feet off the ground using an old HRO-5 receiver and old Globe King
400 transmitter. What does that qualify me for?

Old!

Hi

Chuck W5PR

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