I got my Novice ticket in 1978 and, although I didn’t realize it at the time, I’d never see DX conditions like that again. I was 17 and a senior in high school. Upon waking up at 6am to get ready for school, I would turn on my Ten-Tec Century 21 and work a few Europeans on 10 meters.
Each morning; every morning.
Unlike now, it was a given that Europeans would be coming in on 10 meters in the morning with JA’s and VK/ZL’s taking their place after each evening’s dinner. The thought of whether or not 10 would be “open” never occurred – it was then a known fact that 10m would yield DX for 20 out of 24 hours and the thought that this was not always the case was foreign to us newbies at the time.
If I had known then what I know now, perhaps I would have savored each 10m DX contact just a bit more.
I wish I could find the words to describe what is was like to be a newly-licensed ham, able to turn on a simple rig connected to a simple antenna and have a chat with someone in Paris, Leningrad or Brisbane, mate. To put out a CQ at 30 watts into a dipole and have a slew of DX stations with honest 599 signals answering little old me…
To say that it was magical doesn’t even come close.
And, back then, they truly were chats – not the “599 TNX & 73″ wham-bam-thankyouma’am’s that pass for QSO’s nowadays.
I thought it would always be that way.
Years later, I migrated down to lower bands to get my DX fix since working DX on 10 meters came to mean nothing. CB’ers were doing it next door on 27 MHz, anyone and everyone could (and was) doing it, therefore it was no longer a test of a DXer’s skill or tenacity. In my flawed thinking, to be a DXer worth his salt meant the ability to cross an ocean on Topband or 80 meters.
For years now, 10 meters has been on again, off again – mostly off. The past few days have been okay on that band but not great, yet the DX forums have DXers celebrating the fact that 10m opened to Europe for a few hours on two or three days.
A part of me says, “Big deal”. Another part has me scanning the band along with many others. Like them, I now think a 10m band opening is unique, rare and special. I’ve willingly forgotten the old days, lest I be considered jaded.
A few days ago I worked 3B9EME on 80 meters and, curiously, it meant little to me to travel 10,000 miles on that band. It wasn’t a New One – the 80m band has taken me to that part of the world many times.
If I could have worked them on 10 meters though…..that would have been something.