Earlier this week, I achieved two firsts in one QSO: my first contact on the 17m band (a 100Khz slice of spectrum starting at 18.068 Mhz), and my first contact with Brazil. Specifically, with PY6JB, JOÃO, in Salvador, Brazil, nearly 5000 miles Southeast of me. I’m not positive, but I think this marks my furthest contact on the air so far.
That I set a new personal distance record with JT65 is not surprising – the mode is designed for weak signals and long distances. It encodes up to 13 characters into a highly compact format of 72 bits. These are then run through a pair of Reed Solomon encoders, which translate the user data into a set of 126 bits for transmission with significant potential for error-correction. Reception of signals more than 20 dB below the noise floor is not uncommon with JT65.
As you can see in the screenshot of the popular JTDX program by UA3DY, even transmitting at around 35 Watts, my signal was still 17 dB below the noise floor by the time it got to Brazil. But that was enough to exchange callsigns and reports, and officially verify the QSO.
So, another new country in the log, and my first ever contact on the 17m band. Not a band way to spend a Monday afternoon.
Hear you on the air!
*UPDATE: The same afternoon I posted this, I made another contact with Brazil, but this time on CW – PV8ADI! Woohoo!
This past weekend, I made my first RTTY contacts ever, in the CQ Worldwide Prefix RTTY Contest.
RTTY , or radio teletype(usually pronounced “Ritty”) is a holdover from older days of digial communication, and is based on the interactions of old teletype machines, which would generate the necessary tones to communicate letters and symbols over the air. While the original machines used specialized typewriters and punched paper tapes, today all the encoding and decoding is done via a connection to a computer’s soundcard.
The WPX series of contests is unique in that, rather than earning point multipliers based on geography (say, by individual countries or states), multipliers are earned for each unique prefix of the stations you work. A prefix is the first few letters and numbers of your station callsign – in my case, KK9. This makes it easier for a smaller station like mine to garner interest and be valuable to others as a contact – you don’t need to make yourself heard over any particular distance, so long as your prefix is new to the person on the other end.
My best DX for this contest was 4M1K (Venezuela, ~2560mi) and P49X (Aruba, ~2300 mi), both all-time new ones for me! For brief moments on 20m on Sunday afternoon, I heard both Italy (IQ9UI) and France (F6CXJ) for the first time, but sadly couldn’t make contact with either of them. All in all, I made 18 contacts with 17 prefixes.
Here’s to more countries on more modes. Hear you on the air!