2004-01-21 12:35:26 UTC
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
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
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