AM mode for SOTA on 1st April 2015

Arising from reports of plans to use AM and CW modes on ANZAC Day (Australia’s day to honour their fallen from the armed forces), I proposed using AM for an activation, asking for chasers to also use AM.

This was taken up by Andrew VK1NAM and Adan VK1FJAW, so on the evening of 1st April (note: after midday, therefore not a joke) I activated Black Mt VK1/AC-042, Andrew Vk1NAM activated Mt Stromlo VK1/AC-043 and Adan activated Mt Taylor VK1/AC-037.  I made my first call on 144.3 AM, to receive a loud and clear signal from Adan.  We then moved to 29.1 MHz and repeated the contact there at similar strength.  Adan had already made contact with Andrew 1NAM so I decided to check out 7 mhz as there was a spot on for VK2IO on 7.180.  Sure enough on that frequency Gerard was there with a strong signal and before long I had my second AM S2S.

I then moved to 7.195 where Andrew VK1NAM was spotted, increasing the tally to 3 x S2S AM contacts.  He said he had made two pages full of contacts and was ready to try another band.  So I stayed on 7.195 to make more contacts.  I filled a page of my log and it was quite nostalgic hearing AM signals with the fading and phase distortion as the two sidebands selectively cancel each other.  (This is due to fading being highly frequency selective, the phase changing across the band.)   

I went back to 144.3 and made a contact with VK1NAM there and also just for fun, on 52.2.  Signal strengths were excellent.  

Following that I noticed a spot for VK1FAAM on Mt Ainslie (VK1/AC-040) on 144.3 AM.  I called him without success, then Andrew sent a text message to him saying don’t close down, there is another s2s available.  So he came back on 144.3 and that made my 4th AM S2S contact for the night.  

While some may have thought this was not a serious proposal, it was received very well, many home stations tried AM on 40m for possibly the first time and I received a number of favourable comments about the idea.  

Afterwards we discussed the possiblity of making that day an annual AM day for SOTA.  Whether or not that happens, this exercise showed that activators on ANZAC day (25th April) will be able to make contacts on AM mode with some of the special event stations set up for this 100th anniversary of the event at Gallipoli, Turkey, 1915.  

Equipment used.  FT817 running 2 watts output, antenna was a linked dipole for HF and for 6m and 2m a dipole nominallly cut for 52 MHz, which worked quite well enough for local contacts on 2m as well.  

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