A notable contact with VK0

The latest issue of Amateur Radio magazine (Vol 89, No 5 2021) has a theme of Australian amateur radio involvement in Antarctica.

A link appeared on a Facebook group to a QSL card for two contacts made on 50 MHz – SSB and FM – made between Darin VK0IX at Casey Base and Mike VK3BDL on 31 January 1995.

The article by Rex VK7MO in the issue of Amateur Radio plus the Facebook appearance of the 6 m QSL card reminded me of a card in my collection. I think that the caption on the VK0MT QSL card in Rex’s article may be captioned incorrectly: it says that the contact was made via EME, yet Rex’s text refers to a meteor scatter contact as well as an EME contact. I know that Rex made contact with David VK0MT on Macquarie Island on 2 m via meteor scatter, as Rex helped me to arrange a sked for me with David for an attempt at a similar contact.

Back then, I was VK3KAI, a call which I still hold.

Very early on a cool March morning (19 March 2005), I drove to a high spot on the Grand Ridge Road near Blackwarry. A contact from home was unlikely, as I had a range of hills located not far to my south. I set up my portable station for 2 m, using a 10 element Yagi at 6 m above ground. The operating spot was off the side of the road, with the car parked parallel to a fence. The ground to the south dropped away quickly and I had a clear shot at the horizon. I was running 100 W and we were using FSK441a mode.

From memory, the first pings were seen at around 1915 UTC. Things progressed reasonable quickly initially, but it took a long time to complete the contact – with both stations receiving “73” messages, which occurred at 2016 UTC. So the contact took just over an hour to complete. There was no significant meteor shower at the time, so we were relying on random meteors.

Based on the Maidenhead locators for both stations, the distance covered was about 2010 km.

As you can see on the obverse of the QSL card from David, it is believed that this was the first 2 m meteor scatter contact between VK3 and VK0 Macquarie Island.

Thanks to Rex for the liaison for the sked and many thanks to David for the contact and for hand delivering the QSL card at the GippsTech Conference.

The contact was one of the contacts that enable me to apply for and receive the Worked All VK Call Areas VHF Award, an award very rarely issued for the 2 m band – 6 m awards are a little more common. My certificate was #51, but I understand that only four (4) have been issued for contacts made on 2 m (144 MHz).

The front of the VK0MT QSL card.
The obverse of the QSL card.
The Worked All VK Call Areas VHF Award certificate for 144 MHz operations.
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1 Response to A notable contact with VK0

  1. vk3kr says:

    Hi Peter,

    Interesting post, and a reminder of an intense and fascinating period of amateur radio activity when I got to be ‘the DX’!

    As you noted, Rex, VK7MO mentored my 2m operations, loaning me an FT-736R, assisting with choice of amplifier, coax and antenna. Arriving on station with so much to learn and do, amateur radio ops didn’t commence for many months. I first operated on HF and discovered what being the wanted station in a huge pileup was like! The 2m station was set up and operated only for the last couple of weeks of my stay – to be honest, I wasn’t expecting much activity. This turned out to be very wrong.

    We started with some MS propagation trials while I gained familiarity with the gear and Rex advised me over the phone. This led to our first MS contact (FSK441a) on 15-03-2005. Rex then floored me by suggesting I try an EME contact with one of the US Big Gun stations, W5UN. I didn’t expect success – I had a 10el Yagi with no elevation and 100-odd watts which isn’t an EME station. However, I soon learned that a VK0 callsign is worth 30dB of station gain as the guys at the other end are keen to do all the work!

    A sked was arranged for the 17th March when the moon would be in the right position, and my second 2m contact was with W5UN. He was so strong I could hear the tones above the noise and the contact proceeded straight through the sequence. W5UN (32 Yagis) was immediately followed by KB8RQ (24 Yagis). In the remaining time I made 5 more MS contacts including VK3KAI and ZL3TY and 6 more EME contacts, all with stations with large antennas, except for one. On the 22nd Rex asked me to perform some tests via the moon.

    This was really pushing the envelope as although I might copy Rex, there was little chance he could decode my signal. We started running and I was seeing VK7MO (4 Yagis) calling. Rex phoned and suggested we try to run the contact. I remember it took a long time, but we both saw the ‘O’ report and ‘RRR’. Rex’s best signal to me was -23dB and the VK0MT (1 Yagi) best signal to Rex was -30dB which was on the limit of the JT65b detector in WSJT at the time.

    Although all the 2m contacts were exciting, the contact with VK7MO via EME was the most amazing as it required all the difficult aspects of EME propagation to be favourable!

    The caption on the card is correct – I have cards from VK7MO confirming both the MS and EME contacts. Seeing my note on your card has revived a special memory and caused me to dig out my QSL cards and notes from the time I operated VK0MT.

    Thanks Peter
    73 David VK3KR

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