ATV Christmas Present:

Bill Brown WB8ELK 

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the

house not a creature was stirring 'cepting me in my shack. When all of a sudden there came

such a clatter, from out of the speaker came 2 meter chatter. With visions of DX dancing

'cross my eyes, I turned up my TV and was quite surprised! There were Iowa, Missouri,

Illinois, and Wisconsin; Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and PA, New York, Arkansas and Michigan

too, it was certainly an ATV dream coming true! The Big Opening As some Atvers put it

during the marathon band opening that began Christmas Eve and continued for three straight

days, this had to be the Granddaddy of ATV band openings; conditions not seen since the

great opening of Thanksgiving '86. Although contacts exceeding 2,500 miles have taken

place over water (Hawaii/CA-the Great-Granddaddy of ATV openings), it's pretty rare for

contracts exceeding 500 miles to take over land. These contracts took place with

regularity during this opening with signal levels often approaching P5. The 2m ATV calling

frequency (144.34 Mhz) sounded like 20 meters during a rare DX pile-up. Video was flying

fast and furious on 439.25 MHz over a several-state area stretching from Arkansas and

Missouri all the way east to western New York State. There was a large high pressure area

centered over the region that produced clear, cold weather conditions with nearly 100%

humidity and no wind. Thick layers of frost settled over everything and a dense fog formed

over a large portion of the Midwest. This set up an incredible tropo conditions that

slowly worked itself toward the east over the next few days. Christmas Eve saw many

contacts between Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois, as well as Iowa and the west.

During Christmas Day, Tom Para WA8ZAH in Cincinnati, Ohio, worked Elmo Knoch K4YWL in

Osage, Arkansas, with nearly P5 pictures exchanged (a distance of 540 miles;see Photo A).

The opening never seemed to die even during daylight hours and really stretched out on

Monday night and into the wee hours of Tuesday morning. The most notable contacts were

between Dave Williams WB0ZJP (SK) (O'Fallon, Missouri) and Jim Dallas KA3FZF (Monroeville, Pennsylvania), with P4 to P5

signals over 614+ mile path (see Photo B), and between WBOZJP (SK) and KA8VWV in Moundsville,

West Virginia, (P2 levels) at 535 miles. Many ATV repeater could seen across the region;

it was quite fascinating to watch the DX rolling through a repeater that was hundreds of

miles away. There was even one report that Columbus, Ohio,ATCO repeater was seen in Nashville,

Tennessee. By Tuesday evening there were dozens of ATVers still active (most with cases of

severe sleep-deprivation). This time contacts were made in a mostly north-south path

between Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania. I was having fun working through the

WA4GSS repeater in Huntington, West Virginia. It was great to watch the local ATV gang,

sending pictures through a repeater over 200 miles away (round-trip distance of 400

miles). Just before midnight a front moved through the area and the band finally slammed

shut! It had been quite an adventure and once everyone catches up on their sleep I'm sure

they'll be looking forward to the next big DX adventure.


Reprint of 73 Amateur Radio Today March 1995