21 July 07
Thursday evening found me listening to the 20 meter band on my transceiver. At this stage in the sunspot cycle — we’re at the bottom — 20 meters is basically a daytime and early evening band. The propagation is best on 20 meters over daylight portions of the earth. I am tuning around the Morse Code section of the band and copy the callsign LZ1MS from a signal that is booming in. I know a prefix beginning in L is not a US station; I don’t have the table of prefixes memorized but think “L — that’s probably Argentina, right?”
The table of prefixes is at hand though, and I look up LZ1. It’s Bulgaria (I was close on Argentina though — its prefixes are LO-LW). This is a strange location to have signals coming in from, since it’s mostly nighttime between here and there. Other people are contacting this station and he disappears before I have a chance to contact him on Morse Code.
I go to the Web where I look up the current long-distance ham radio activity (there is a system in place where hams briefly log to the Net current long-distance contacts) and find that LZ1MS has moved to the voice portion of the 20 meter band, alas in a section I don’t have privileges to transmit on. I tune around the voice portion and hear folks transmitting from Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, and Estonia. In my short 6-month career on the high frequency bands I’ve not heard anything like this opening to Eastern Europe before.
Not that I managed to contact anybody there. But I did have luck in the opposite direction, and had my first contact on voice into Japan that evening!