Surprise, Surprise!

By Jock Elliott, KB2GOM

If you had been monitoring 29.620 around  1615Z on January 5, 2023, it’s just barely possible that you could have heard me leap out of my chair and do the “Astonishment Dance,” while yelling: “Are you kidding me?!! Is this even possible?!!”

Let me set the scene: it was a quiet day, much like any other day. My Better Half was catching up with her sister on the telephone in another room. I was in the sun room/library/radio shack reading a book.

Two of my ham transceivers are ex-public-service units, and I decided to put the one dedicated to 70 cm on scan. In my area, 70 cm (440 MHz ham band) is generally pretty quiet, and I thought I would see if anyone was using it.

After a while, the scan stops, and the transceiver locks onto 442.9500 a repeater far to the south of me.  A mellifluous French accent begins announcing a callsign: Foxtrot 3 Oscar India Japan. I drop my call on the repeater . . . KB2GOM . . . we chat. His name is Serge, he is in Rheims France.

Wait a minute, this is a 440 repeater. I’ve heard of extreme long distance propagation occasionally on two meters . . . but 440? This is crazy.

I am officially flipping out . . . is this some sort of X-files propagation on 70cm? Better call Fox Mulder.

I call my radio guru, K2RHI; he explains it is a 10 meter repeater linked to a series of other repeaters, including the 70 cm repeater my transceiver has locked onto. I settle down . . . a little . . . and continue to monitor. Then in rapid succession, I respond to the calls from hams from Texas, Northeast England and a place called Trout Creek in Delaware County. If you had been listening on 29.620, you might have heard one very excited oldster (me!) talking with those stations.

So dear reader, the moral of this story is two-fold: (1) you never know what surprise radio may deliver next, and (2) when it happens, it can be a source of fun and wonderment . . . so keep listening!

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14 thoughts on “Surprise, Surprise!

  1. Tim Myers N4TCM

    A surprise to me: One afternoon listening to local police chatter, my Uniden BC75XLT handheld scanner stops on a 10 meter FM frequency I programmed in and the squelch opens. And it’s just the stock rubber duck antenna! You never know.

  2. Mario Filippi

    Excellent article Jock, tnx. Yes, 10m FM repeater activity here in Central NJ over the past month has been active, especially .620. Some days Europe comes booming in. I’ve also monitored the repeater input frequencies 100 kHz down (e.g., 29.520 ) and have heard DX which gives you an idea how good conditions are.

    Once in a blue moon 29.6 MHz, the FM simplex calling frequency has an op or two calling CQ. I wish more ops would call CQ, you might be surprised with a contact. No luck so far at this end though hihi.

    Another area to explore is if you spin the VFO dial down to just above the USA CB band. You’ll hear Euro ops using FM simplex. Try 27.5 – 27.9 MHz when conditions are good. If your rcvr has a waterfall you can actually “see” what an FM signal looks like – it’s slightly different in appearance from the other common modes. The CB band is a good indicator of what might be happening on 10m. Many of us in our larval stages of the radio life cycle began with CB and the band endures today.

    Again, tnx and 73’s Jock.

    1. Jock Elliott


      Thanks for the kind words. Yes, indeed, I was a CBer and actually wrote the CB column for PopComm for a while.

      I’ll have to check out those Euro FM Simplex frequencies. Thanks for the tip!

      Cheers, Jock

  3. Steve

    In 1993 I owned a FT-470 with 2 and 440 coverage. It worked very well with a normal 2 band whip antenna. I was able to work many local repeaters in the Boston area from my dorm room. In the fall of ‘93 I was sitting by a window monitoring 440. Much to my surprise, I started hearing 6 and 7 callsigns on one frequency. When there was a pause in QSOs, I broke in and discovered that the repeaters in the west were linked and relaying on 10 meters. The 440 repeater I was using was linked to a local 10 meter repeater and allowed me to speak with hams over 2,000 miles away. I was totally blown away. Prior to that, all my long distance QSOs were on HF (including 6M) from my home shack. My QTH in VA doesn’t seem to be near to repeaters that will allow me to do that currently, and doing it over the internet just isn’t the same.

  4. ERIC

    I’ve monitored 10 Mtr repeaters for years, 10 Mtrs being my favourite band. I pick up DX every year sporadically, especially during the summer months. Of course, 10mtrs is getting better and better as this cycle gets stronger and stronger on the up trend.

    Have fun on 10 !!
    Eric – G4VZZ


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