Honshu DX

Why DX is so exciting!

Jeffrey A. Boyd, JR2TTS, on Honshu Island in Japan relates how excitement over DXing works on both ends of the circuit!

After three years my “Holy Grail” miracle QSO has been achieved and confirmed!

Seriously, 12 hours later I’m still running around the house like a 6-year-old on Christmas morning. The wife and I were visiting a friend’s house about two hours east of home yesterday, out in the country. A little past 9 PM we left to go home, and once we were on the road I turned on the 857D to monitor 20m for a bit, not expecting much because listening earlier that afternoon had been pretty noisy. But I noticed that the noise floor was S0 — whisper-quiet. Tuning around, I heard a bunch of JAs feverishly calling “CQ NORTH AMERICA NORTH AMERICA!” like it was turning illegal tomorrow. Hmm, 20 must be open! Maybe I can hear some Californians or maybe Arizona, which would be typical for me.

During the most recent CQWW contest I heard as far as Texas at night on 40 in the truck, but I’ve never successfully worked any station east of the Mississippi on any band or any mode. I’ve only heard the east coast once, in 2014, when solar conditions were much better. That region of the world is a big RF black hole to me. Strange, though, that the operators on this side would be so excited about an opening.

I went down to 14.203 and heard an American booming in. There’s a Californian if I ever heard one, I thought, despite the 3-land call (I’ve been burned on this plenty of times in the past). “This is K3MA”, he was saying. “Okay how about some QRP stations, Japan QRP stations?”

That was my chance. “JR2TTS mobile!” I called. Mobile HF is QRP in my book, anyway.

JR2TTS mobile, I have you about 4 by 6. Some QSB. Name here is John, and I’m located in Pennsylvania–” PENNSYLVANIA?!?!?!
I nearly ran off the road fumbling with the mic. “OMG PENNSYLVANIA?! REALLY?!!” I practically yelled in my haste to answer. “All time new one, I’ve never worked the east coast ever!”

“Well I made out some of that, there’s some QSB, burrmffggmv…” Then I went into a tunnel. A long one.

Luckily when I came back out he was still perfectly audible and working the next guy. I decided to roll the dice and try calling him again the next time he was open because I really wanted this one confirmed. “QRZ?” he came again. I put my call out again, adding “mobile!” with a bit more desperation in my voice than I intended.
“There you are, I’ve got you in the log, just tell me your name so I can get that in the log too,” he came back, still 5/6. I told him, still looking over wide-eyed at my wife at the Powerball-level luck I was having. I was hurtling down a bypass with 100W and a 20m whip, hours past sundown, the solar cycle going downhill, and talking to a guy 6,800 miles away on SSB phone in a region of the world I thought I’d never hear. “Well you’re a bit better now, still some QSB, but you’re in the log, glad to be of service,” he said. And that was that.

Three years I’ve been doing this and that has never happened, and I almost missed it because I was considering not turning the radio on at all. “Working the east coast of the US” was Number One on my ham bucket list.

The minute I got home I looked K3MA up on QRZ.com, and lo and behold, there I was. It wasn’t a dream. I was the only mobile in his log that day.

Layne, AE1N

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