This evening, I made my first contact using my Thai callsign, HS0ZMJ. It started off rather promising. I saw from the Band Conditions Twitter account that it was going to be good conditions on 20m and fair conditions on 17 and 15 meters. So I jumped on the radio about an hour before dusk.
If you read my previous post, then you know I have an antenna problem at the moment. I’ve got a fan dipole that’s only about 7m in the air and it’s between two houses! I wasn’t expecting much when I walked up the stairs to the shack with my trusty dog, Spock, following at my heels.
But with good conditions predicted on 20m, I decided it was worth a shot. I connected the antenna, hooked the radio into the MacBook, and set MacLoggerDX to auto-tune the beacons on 20m. As soon as the radio dialed in, I heard Peru like it was right down the street. Peru! That was unexpected! Great! Let’s start spinning that dial. I got a few kHz away when something immediately went awry. QRM!
That noise was 20 dB over S9 all the way from 14.105 MHz to 14.264 MHz. And it dropped off really abruptly at both ends. I still have no idea what it was. Nevertheless, I decided it best to switch to 15m.
I was still getting some strong signals from the beacons in Hong Kong, Japan, Russia, and Peru. Just not quite as strong as they were on 20m. So, I started dialing around the phone section of the band. I kept catching the end of various QSOs. Which I always found a great opportunity. Unfortunately, lady luck was not on my side. I could only hear one side of each QSO. Meaning I had about a 50-50 chance the station I could hear was the one that initially called CQ and would stick around that frequency to call CQ again. 0 out of 5 times did the station I hear actually stick around.
Because of my antenna, I knew I had a weak signal getting out. I really didn’t want to waste my breath calling CQ. I wanted to try where I knew there was already someone. I finally got lucky and heard a station calling CQ as I continued to dial through 15m. But I missed his call. Was I going to miss him completely? After about a minute of dead air, I figured I had just missed him. I was about to continue on when I finally heard CQ again!
I got him! It was JA7GFN out of Japan! A nice clean 55 signal. He gave me a report back of 55. However, he was running 500W and I was running 100W. Just goes to show you, power doesn’t help on HF unless your trying to crush a pile-up for a contest or a rare DX. But none of that matters! I have my first log entry!