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Accueil - Home arrow Articles arrow Articles arrow Zone 40 interviews Zone 2
Zone 40 interviews Zone 2 Print E-mail
Written by Victor Androsov   
by TF4M on JANUARY 13, 2011 published by courtesy of Thor, TF4M

After I worked VE2XAA/2 for my Zone #39 on 160 meters for the WAZ160 Award, I contacted Alex to get some background on his operation, and why Zone 2 , the Zone nearest to Zone 40 is so incredibly rare, so close and yet so far...

Our discussion is reproduced below. (photos by VE2XAA/2).

hi Alex,I was telling a friend about the difficulty I had in getting a QSO from that area and that you were the only person going there once a year for two days.

No, Thor, I was not the only person who activated Zone 2 in the CQ WW Contests. As a matter of fact, my friend Yuri VE2IM (VE3DZ) goes there since 1999 and has already 90,000 QSO in his Zone 2 LOG. Another friend of mine, Victor VA2WDQ, operated as VE2EKA from Zone 2, and a group of Americans come to Zone 2 every year for the last 4-5 years to operate as VE2DXY, but only in SSB part of the CQ WW. The good news is that very active CW and DX operator Steve, VE2TKH moved recently to Sept-Iles, and is very active operating from VE2CSI club station. As for me, I try to go there every year, this time I was active only for 7 days - from November 23rd till November 29th, 2010.
Note : I missed VE2IM´s operation in September/October due to suffering near fatal post-operative complications. VA2WDQ was indeed QRV in December, but no mention was made of Zone 2 with his spots, so I am not convinced he operated from Zone 2. Spots for VE2YDX on 160 meters were few and also fell in the period of my illness, they seemed to be mostly on phone as well. VE2TKH does not seem to operate 160 meters either, so even all this activity does not mean that Zone 2 is available on 160 meters.

I listened for you the entire first night until around 10 in the morning when you closed down – all this time on 80m and great conditions into NA on Top Band the whole time! The second night of the contest conditions got very poor, I worked you on some other bands, and finally around 0200 in the morning I gave up hope that you would ever go to 160. I turned off my amplifier and the radio and as I was going to bed, I decided to check for you one more time and there you were ! After about one hour of calling, I made the QSO with you, with NA and EU stations calling constantly on top of our QSO, I wasn´t 100% sure that you had logged me, so I tried to raise you again without success, I even found you on a new frequency after you moved….

Yes, Thor, I was very pleased that you called me on different bands - contacts with TF lands are also very rare for people around the World and in Quebec particularly. Our contact on 80 meters was in the first 10 minutes of the Contest and I was also happy to have such rare multiplier right st the start of the Contest.

When you called me later on 20 and then on 40 meters, I understood that you are making a serious effort in the Contest and I was kind of mentally prepared to listen for you on Topband. But when I finally heard you on 160, your signal exceeded my expectations! It was very strong, real S "9" on the meter and there was absolutely no doubt about who was calling me. The only problem was a huge QRM from the nearby station and relatively wide passband of my radio.

So it would be interesting to know, what your setup was, what kind of antenna you had on 160, how many QSOs you made on Top Band in the contest, what did the USA and EU wall sound like, how long did you stay on Top etc etc?

The set-up on 160 was not very good. Something you will see on the attached pictures. I used FT1000MP Mark V radio and a 400 watts amplifier. The antenna was a simple Alpha Delta dipole for 3 bands - 40, 80 and 160 m with apex at about 45 feet. I used same antenna on receive. The conditions on 80 were so good the first night, so I stayed there almost 9 hours from the start of the Contest and till I went to sleep for a couple of hours. After I woke up I decided to collect some mults on 160, Sometimes it took me a few minutes to complete a QSO and some of the stations did not hear me at all. 30 minutes later I left Topband and I only came back for 20 minutes to work some multipliers at around 23:10 UTC. About 2 and a half hours later I returned to 160 and stayed there for another 2.5 hours. When the rate dropped significantly I left Topband, so altogether in the Contest I spent not more than 3 and a half hours on 160 and my QSO total was 212, with 39 countries and 15 Zones. There was no surprise in such modest Topband score, because I almost never heard EU or other rare DX, and NA stations did not give me too many points.

However, what really surprised me - was the propagation on 160 after the Contest. 2 hours after the end of the Contest I felt like I could make few more contacts on Topband. I never heard something like that in my entire life! There were not too many stations on band probably because a lot of them were tired after the contest, but EU stations were very loud and I had a real pile-up even with my very modest set-up! I heard and worked many stations from UA1, UA3, UA4, UA6, UR, LZ, YU, SP, DL, I, F, G, EA - and a lot of them were S 9+20 dB! Some of them even had key clicks and sounded like local stations! At some point I was in doubt - maybe I was tired after the Contest and confused the band with 80 or 40? But no, it was indeed the 160 m band! Was it really a 599+ signal on my S-meter or was it just very low noise level at that time which made all the signals look powerful? Another surprise was realizing that not all EU stations heard me well - some of them continued to call me on top of my transmission and others did not come back to me when I replied to them... Same story with the stations from N.A. - I copied some of the U.S. station at about 559-579 level... I do not operate on 160 m very often, so this phenomena was quite new to me.

It must have been difficult on your end as well.

Yes, Thor, indeed - it was really difficult to copy a station coming at 539-559 level when a bunch of 599+ callers are on the frequency. So in case like this I was doing what other people usually do - when I finally could copy a DX station with relatively strong signal, I completed a QSO with it and asked N.A. to wait so I could call "DX only" for a few minutes. Usually I could make few other DX QSOs before I could return to the N.A. pile-up.

If I had not made that QSO with you, I would have had to wait another year for the next shot at Zone 2, perhaps in even worse conditions, or perhaps you would not go to 160 meters at all ! It could have taken years and years for me to work Zone 2. What is the reason Zone 2 is so rare?, with thousands of VE hams on the doorstep of Zone 2, why isn´t it activated more often?

It's hard to understand for me as well. What can I say - probably there are not so many DX-men or Contest-men in Zone 2. HAMs mostly active on VHF, over repeaters. When someone visits Zone 2 for a Contest or DXpedition, it's not easy to put up a good antenna for theTopband because of time limit and/or weather. Also, because it's far North, the conditions there are not stable and sometimes restrict activity even more than lack of good set-up..

Considering the difficulty in working Zone 2, even though it is the closest Zone to mine and I had expected it to be a piece of cake, our QSO remains one of the greatest moments in my quest for WAZ160.

I am very glad to help you and others to work this rare Zone. It gives me a big pleasure to know that people can finally have this QSO in their LOGs. Actually, it was my goal - to give Zone 2 to as many people as possible, so my trips are not for nothing.

Happy New Year 2011, Thor! I wish you luck on the air!

73! Alexey

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