At noon on Sunday 9 October (2300 8 Oct UTC) ZL1ZLD responded to a call on 21050 kHz from K6KPH. This was no ordinary QSO however. The sked had been a couple of weeks in planning, and was significant in a number of ways.
K6KPH is located at the former RCA coast station KPH near San Francisco. KPH went off the air in 1997 but two years later a group of radio amateurs, many of them former commercial operators or technicians, began restoring the station which, although silent, was surprisingly intact.
Calling themselves the Maritime Radio Historical Society they have an enviable record of accomplishments. They maintain not only the receiving station at Pt Reyes, but also the original transmitter site 18 miles away at Bolinas.
MRHS obtained the commercial marine callsign KSM and operates every Saturday and Sunday on marine and amateur frequencies, using former KPH transmitters, receivers and antennas. Operations are entirely CW and RTTY.
When MRHS contacted us to request an amateur radio sked with K6KPH, I suggested 2300 on 8 Oct (UTC) since that would be a club meeting day. MRHS member Kevin McGrath K6TOP confirmed the sked arrangements from his yacht near Sacramento, using marine radiotelegraph to contact KSM which then emailed the message to me.
I emailed an acknowledgment back to KSM which put my message on their traffic list where it was picked up by Kevin.
During the days preceding our sked, MRHS received some exciting news. Their transmitter team had almost completed the retuning of transmitters and antennas in order to change a number of their commercial frequencies. This was part of a complex arrangement that would enable the station to revert to its historic callsign KPH. The changeover would occur a few hours before our amateur sked – so we got to be part of the celebration!
We were invited to send a special greeting to be included in a broadcast from the reborn KPH. This message was sent simultaneously on six HF and one MF marine channel, with each of the transmitters running 5kW CW.
CQ CQ CQ DE KPH KPH KPH
THE FOLLOWING SPECIAL MESSAGE WAS RECEIVED FROM ZLD AUCKLAND RADIO/ MUSICK PT RADIO GROUP
CONGRATULATIONS ON THE RETURN OF KPH TO THE AIRWAVES STOP WE LOOK FORWARD TO HEARING KPH AT MUSICK POINT NAMED IN HONOUR OF AMERICAN AVIATION PIONEER EDWIN MUSICK A HERO IN YOUR COUNTRY AND IN OURS STOP 73
MPRG / ZLD AUCKLAND RADIO
END OF SPECIAL MESSAGE
As the first day of the new KPH drew to a close, it was time for our amateur radio sked. K6KPH called ZL1ZLD simultaneously on 15, 17 and 20 metres, using 26-year-old Henry 5kW transmitters loafing along at 1kW.
We responded on 15 metres where signals were 589 both ways and had a pleasant chat with Kevin, getting an update from him on their memorable day at KPH.
I then sent one item of formal traffic to MRHS/KPH from MPRG/ZLD to mark the occasion.
I hope we can maintain regular contact with K6KPH. Their signals are usually very good, as are those from their commercial station KPH. Both stations are on the air Saturdays and Sundays 1700-2300 UTC.
3550.0, 7050.0, 14050.0, 18097.5, 21050.0
CW: 426, 500, 4247.0, 6477.5, 8642.0, 12808.5, 17016.8, 22477.5
RTTY: 6324.5, 12585.5
Please see radiomarine.org for further information.
Thanks to Peter ZL1AAM for checking out our gear and having it ready for the sked. After it was all over he admitted to me that an hour before sked time our IC7700 transceiver stopped working on 15 metres! Fortunately, rebooting it solved the problem. Modern gear! 🙂