As a little kid – long before even being aware of something called ham radio – I found it fun to listen for distant AM broadcast stations on my transistor radio. I bet a lot of others reading this did too.
Long after bedtime and with the volume turned low, I’d slowly turn the dial and wait for station ID’s and locations to be announced: Oklahoma City, Chicago, Wichita…
My recently reconfigured dipole (becomes a “T vertical” at the throw of a knife switch) puts me just above the AM band and it’s so new that I honestly don’t know what to expect from it. As a vertical, it’s makeshift at best – and for that reason, it’s surprising me.
I have big plans for numerous radials but the reality for the moment is that I have one radial that’s about 45 feet long and another that’s 165 feet long. The short one is on the ground; the long one is elevated at about 5 feet.
This morning K9W Wake Island was spotted on 160m. I started listening about 30 minutes prior to my sunrise and could tell he was there. I could pick out 2 or 3 letters of the callsigns being worked and that’s about it. QSB and QRN made copying complete callsigns impossible.
This was with the K3 tweaked for all its worth: RF Gain, BW, APF, fine tune mode engaged, etc, etc.
The pile-up calling K9W 2kHz up was substantial. Nothing like the hordes on 15 meters but sizeable nevertheless.
15, 20 minutes later I’m copying complete callsigns. The full exchange, with K9W at S7, although QSB is still deep and rapid. I know it won’t last long – it’s time to start calling. I flick the amp from STBY to OPR and call when he signs.
No joy on the first attempt but on the second time around he sends my call and 599.
Given the difficulty of hearing him, I really didn’t expect to work Wake at all on 160m – and a part of me doubted that I had until their online log gave proof.
I can see how some ops get addicted to Topband and spend the bulk of their radio-allotted time there, just above the AM broadcast band.
Perhaps like when they were kids.