WD2XSH Goes Long (600 meters to be exact)

From the 10/25/08 issue of the ARRL Letter:

* ARRL’s 500 kHz Station, WD2XSH, Wants to Hear from You: Fritz Raab,
W1FR, coordinator for ARRL’s 500 kHz Experimental Station, WD2XSH, reports that fall has brought lower static and good propagation, making excellent conditions for the 500 kHz experimenters. The experimental license, issued in September 2006, has more than 20 active stations. Raab said that last year, a second US experimental license — WE2XGR, with five participants — joined the project, as well as experimenters in the UK, Germany, Sweden and the Czech Republic. These stations’ operating modes include CW, QRSS, PSK-31 and others. Contacts have been achieved at distances up to 1234 miles, with signals received from all over North America, Alaska and Hawaii; trans-Atlantic reports are not uncommon. “The 500 kHz experimenters are experiencing excellent propagation conditions,” Raab said. “The best time to listen is between sunset and sunrise.” The operating frequencies are: WD2XSH — 505.2-510 kHz; WE2XGR — 505-515 kHz; UK — 501-504 kHz, and SM, DL, OK — 505.0-505.2 kHz. Raab requests that listeners file reception reports at the experiment’s Web site so that they become part of the station’s data base. Additional information can be found at the experiment’s Web site and also in the July/August 2007 issue of QEX.

Operating Notes

I’m surprised how well my random wire antenna seems to work. Even with only 30W, I’m making plenty of contacts. I’ve even made my first 80m DX contact—8P6JD in Barbados.

I thought I’d be making more short-distance contacts, though, because the max height of the random wire is only about 20 feet. Instead, I’m working a lot of New England stations. The closest has been a guy in Edgarton, WV.

The noise level seems rather high, though. It’s a solid S5 or higher. Perhaps the polarization of the antenna is mostly vertical. That might explain both the long skip and high noise level.

Longwave Listening
Last night, I used the 746′s keyboard to QSY to 3530 kHz…or so I thought. I missed the last zero and would up on 353 kHz instead. There, I heard an interesting signal sending QG, then a long dah over and over. I did a Google search for “QG 353″ and found that it was a beacon station at the Windsor, ON airport.

I tuned around a bit and heard another station calling “RYS” on 420 kHz. I did another Google search and found this Longwave Beacon Loggings page. It notes that RYS is on 419 kHz and located on Grosse Ile, here in Michigan. It lists about 70 beacon stations that the author has logged.

He also has a page with various Longwave and Beacon Links. One of the more interesting links there—for amateur radio operators anyway—is the AMRAD Low Frequency Web Page. This page describes some of the experimentation being carried on by hams in the longwave region.

Another One for the Collection
Finally, I have another station to add to my collection of QSLs from stations whose callsigns spell words. I just worked Gerald K4IN, Mobile, AL this morning.

ARRL 500 kHz Project Underway

I really don’t know why I’m interested in this, but I am. The following is from the 9/29/06 ARRL Letter. More information is on the 500 kc Experimental Group for Amateur Radio Web
site ……Dan

The project manager for the ARRL 500-kHz experiment, Fritz Raab, W1FR, says
The 500 KC Experimental Group for Amateur Radio is still in the
organizational stages but has already recorded its first two-way contact.
The FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology on September 13 granted Part
5 experimental license WD2XSH to the ARRL on behalf of a group of radio
amateurs interested in investigating the LF spectrum. The two-year
authorization permits experimentation and research between 505 and 510 kHz
(600 meters) using narrowband modes at power levels of up to 20 W effective
radiated power (ERP).

“It will probably be a free for all through October as guys get their
stations on the air,” Raab told ARRL Headquarters. “The Midwest stations
will be limited to 505 to 508 kHz for the time being, and the rest can use
505 to 510 kHz.” He said a couple of the WD2XSH participants got on the air
the day after the license was issued, and several others activated the first
week, generating a number of reception reports.

“Many are for distances of about 300 miles, of course, but some are much
longer,” Raab told ARRL Headquarters. He reports that W0RPK in Iowa copied
the WD2XSH/20 station in Oregon early on September 26 – a distance of 1500
miles.

The first QSO took place September 21 between the stations in Tennessee and
North Carolina – a distance of some 300 miles.

Raab eventually would like to see at least a secondary 600-meter Amateur
Radio allocation from 495 to 510 kHz. He envisions eventual use of the
spectrum to provide Amateur Radio emergency communication via groundwave.

Announcement of the license grant earlier this month brought a few requests
from radio amateurs interested in joining the experimental group. Raab says
there are no plans to expand the group’s membership, however. He does invite
reception reports
of transmissions made by group members.

For the time being, the WD2XSH group is only using CW. The ARRL Part 5
application had requested permission to use both CW and PSK31, but the
license grant omitted the latter mode. Raab says he’s working to secure
permission to add PSK31 to the grant.

During October, the 21-station experimental group will develop a band plan
that assigns frequencies for QRSS — very slow speed CW — as well as for CW
beacons and for two-way communication, Raab said. WD2XSH participant Conrad
Murray, WS4S (WD2XSH/11) reports he’s transmitting a QRSS beacon on an
irregular basis on 505.505 kHz from his Tennessee QTH.

News of the WD2XSH license grant opened another line of communication for
Raab. “The announcement brought me a bunch of e-mails, and contact with
someone I knew from college and hadn’t seen since the 1970s,” he said.