Fall 2009 Issue

Working the Continental U.S.
on 2 Meters Terrestrial

Working the lower 48 states terrestrially on 2 meters is a goal
that few have achieved. You can only do it if you live in the right part of the
country. Here W9GKA tells how it has been done and by whom.

By Kevin Kaufhold, W9GKA


Photo A. This photograph of Dick, KMQS, is from November 1976 QST and would have been taken around the time that his WAS number 1 on 2 meters was achieved. (Photo courtesy of the ARRL and QST magazine)

One very interesting piece of operating lore has to do with the vast distances that can be traversed on 2 meters. A small section of the U.S. lies within meteor-scatter and Es range of both coasts on 2 meters. Some causal operators may not realize the potential, but for many years serious VHF operators have circulated among themselves the callsigns of stations that have worked all 48 states on 2 meters using only terrestrial means.

Two-Meter Efforts in the Early Years

Dick Hart, KMQS (photo A), may have been the first person to realize that stations located in the middle of the country could work both coasts on 2 meters via only terrestrial means. Dick attempted WAS (Worked All States) on 2 meters in two separate spans of time. His general goal to was to first work as many stations as he could terrestrially, and then move to EME (Earth-Moon-Earth) to finish WAS. Dick felt that he had a reasonably good chance of completing the first 2-meter WAS because he was equidistant from both coasts, being 1200 miles away from his location in Iowa. He also believed that the maximum MS (meteor scatter) limit was around 1400 miles, based upon 335 MS schedules he made over the years.1 Initially, KMQS was not taken seriously, but by mid-1969 he had worked 45 states terrestrially from Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Dick then moved to Delta, Iowa and had to start his quest all over again, as he was just outside of the permitted boundaries under the WAS rules. Within three years he again climbed back to 45 states. To finish all states on 2 meters, Dick experimented with non-steerable rhombic antennas for EME work.2 It is unknown who KMQS completed with on states number 46 and 47, but number 48 was achieved via the Moon with KH6NS on September 20, 1973. His 49th state was with W7UBI in Idaho, who ran an astounding 56 EME schedules with Dick before completing a QSO on August 2, 1976. A QSO to the last state, Alaska, occurred a few weeks later through a noteworthy EME portable DXpedition by K6YNB (now N6NB). On August 17, 1976, WAS number 1 on 2 meters was finally accomplished.

Interestingly, KMQS very likely confirmed only 47 states terrestrially. Several amateurs have felt that KMQS worked 48 states twice, while others believe he still needed one or more states terrestrially. In preparing for the July 2008 QST article, Gene Zimmerman, W3ZZ, even telephoned Dick Hart, but was unable to confirm exact details after so many years. The 1976, 1979, and 1980 QST articles cited herein infer that KMQS attempted WAS twice, but was still missing Idaho or some other state terrestrially when WSD achieved 48 states without the Moon. Correspondence in the 2002 timeframe between Mike King, KMT, and Dick Hart indicated that KMQS was still missing California terrestrially.3 Photo A of Dick is from November 1976 QST, at contact 49, and would have been taken around the time that WAS number 1 was achieved.

Within a few years after WAS number 1, the possibility that the continental United States could be worked on 2 meters terrestrial was being seriously contemplated. Bill Tynan, W3XO, wrote: I have yet to be informed of a bona fide 2-meter contact across the U.S. on any mode but EME. Thus, when one has worked all the states which can be worked from a particular QTH, EME offers the only hope of ascending the list any further.4 In November 1979, Bill Tynan then penned an article appropriately entitled Challenges in which he stated: How many states can be worked without using the moon? Can the 48 continental states be worked using terrestrial propagation modes alone? I dont know, but it sure would be interesting to try.5
Little did W3XO know, but WSD had just worked his last state in August 1979. Tynan got wind of it the next year (news must have traveled slowly back then!) when he commented in November 1980: Few imagined how short a time it would be before someone would do it. That someone is WSD. At the Central States Conference, Ed displayed the cards (all but one had yet to arrive from K1WHS; that one has now been received). I am sure that everyone congratulates WSD on accomplishing a most notable feat.6

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