Basic instructions: Go ahead and tune if no other users. Transmit & antenna tuner available to users with transmit privileges. Ask for transmit by clicking “TX”. Please, USA licensees, General Class & above only. Others may listen and tune the receiver in the ham bands. Press TUNE to tune the antenna before transmitting. Typical hours: 7 AM – 9 AM CDT USA.
The WA0TDA HF (High Frequency bands) station is located in Woodbury, Minnesota USA, east of Minneapolis-St. Paul. It is about 10 miles west of the MN-WI border, the St. Croix River. The grid square is EN34mw. If you operate the station, you are transmitting from that grid square.
The transceiver is an Icom IC-7200, which can run up to 100 watts. It uses an LDG AT-200PRO automatic antenna tuner to match a maypole inverted vee system OR a Butternut HF9V vertical antenna in the middle of a large back yard. Both antennas are fed underground through direct bury coaxial cable. The antenna tunes 80 meters through 6 meters. 160 meter receive is available, but the antennas do not tune for transmit on that band. A summer upgrade to add 160 m capability is in the works.
HF remote station W0ZSW is on the same property, and does cover 160 meter operation. Please note that because these stations are in close proximity, there is a possibility of interference if both happen to be in use at the same time. It is similar to operating at a multi-station Field Day site. Be thoughtful about managing interference so that everyone can enjoy operating.
Guest operation is allowed, but you must hold at least a USA General Class license to transmit. You are welcome to tune the receiver if you don’t have a license, but please check to make sure no one else is using it first.
Hours of operation are usually from around 7:00 AM to 9 or 10 PM USA Central time. Longer hours are available by request.
Transmit access may be requested by emailing me at email@example.com. You may also wish to toggle the “TX” button on the RCForb software interface while connected to the station, which will log a TX request. But it does help, once you have done that, to drop me an email as well. (I’m not too good about checking the TX request log frequently!)
Other things to know: The station is located near the center of the North American continent. There is no ocean nearby – just miles and miles of landmass. That means we have a “continental climate” – cold winters with snow and ice, spring that arrives later than it might in other parts of the world, summers that are generally pleasant but can be hot and humid with severe thunderstorms, and wonderful autumns with beautiful fall colors and generally mild temperatures gradually giving way to winter cold once again. What this means to HF operations is pretty simple:
- Winters are ideal for operating on the 80, 75, 40, and 30 meter bands. The long cold nights begin as HF propagation lengthens out at around 4-5 PM, even though it isn’t completely dark yet. These bands open up and you can make a lot of contacts.
- There is little or no interference from thunderstorm static in the winter. The bands are quiet and can open up over thousands of miles.
- In the spring and on toward summer the sun gets higher in the sky and the nights get shorter. Conditions are no quite so good on bands like 80 and 75 meters. In addition, thunderstorm season is now underway along the Gulf of Mexico and in the southern states. Interference from these storms can now be heard on the lower frequency bands, especially 160 and 80 meters.
- When summer gets closer and finally arrives, the sun is at its peak. Longer days mean more thunderstorms, except now they are right at the station location, not thousands of miles away. During thunderstorms the station is shut down and disconnected from its antenna system.
- Even on nice sunny summer days, you will still hear thunderstorm static skipping in from other locations hundreds or thousands of miles away. Bands like 80/75 meters are at their best early in the morning before or shortly after sunrise. This is when there is the least thunderstorm static and the least absorption of signal, so get up early in the summer if you want to make contacts on 75 meters!
- Better choices might be 20 meters or 40 meters in the summer. Listen on the bands to find out what’s happening.
- The station covers the USA 6 meter band. This band can be quite surprising in the summer months, especially in June, as it opens up for long distances. Listen on the calling frequency 50.125 MHz USB, or even give a call there.
- You can get HF band propagation reports from a variety of sources, such as http://www.bandconditions.com.
- If you have an Amazon Echo, you can enable the HF Propagation report, making it easy to ask Alexa to “start propagation report”.
- If you have questions, you may browse the forums at Remotehams.com or email me with a specific question about this station: firstname.lastname@example.org.