A Club First – Transatlantic QSO Between Two Club Members

This summer, on the 14th of August, we had two club firsts in one go — that is, the first QSO (radio contact, for those unacquainted) between two Case Amateur Radio Club members across national borders, but also more impressively, the first QSO between two CARC members across an ocean!

The two parties involved were faculty advisor David Kazdan AD8Y, and club president Andrej Antunovikj K8TUN. AD8Y operated from his home station in the Cleveland area, while K8TUN was back in his home country of North Macedonia over the summer and operated from his hometown club: ARC “Stevo Patako” — Bitola, callsign Z37CEF. They tested several modes of operation to probe the 20-meter band, famous for being open between Europe and the United States during the summer afternoon/evening time, before landing on an interesting choice: Olivia.

From its information site:

Olivia is a ham radio digital mode designed to work in difficult (low s/n ratios plus multipath propagation) conditions on HF bands (though it also works as well on VHF/UHF). The signal can be decoded even when it is 10-14 db below the noise floor (i.e. when the amplitude of the noise is slightly over 3 times that of the signal).

If all of that sounds like jargon to you, the short version is that it is a computer-to-computer digital mode of operation that allows for data transmission over weak signal or high-noise situations. And my, did it ever! 100% copy was achievable on both sides, even despite the rather spartan setup that K8TUN had to use due to a failure of the USB audio interface in his club’s rig (for those curious, he used his phone’s speaker right against the microphone of the radio transceiver to transmit.)

All in all, the “sked” was a great success. The signal travelled almost exactly 5000 miles from grid locator EN91fl to KN01pa (fun fact: Cleveland and Bitola are on the same latitude of 41°N, meaning that the signal basically travelled along a parallel!)

As is customary for such a momentous QSO, the two exchanged QSL cards:

K8TUN opted to write his QSL on a vintage Z37CEF card from the early ’90s for maximum effect!

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