Written By: JA1RJU, Kazuo Ogasawara
Translated From Japanese By: W9PQN, Roy Waite
New hams have no difficulty getting on 50 MHz and 144 MHz these days, but who imagined the ease of getting on these bands when ham radio came back to life in Japan in 1952 In those days hardly anyone even knew where to find anything above 144 MHz, and the number of stations on 50 MHz were so few that you could count them. The progress we have seen during the past quarter century has changed the VHF and UHF bands drastically along with improvements in technology. Through the years new distance records of QSOs on VHF and UHF have been set, always resenting a challenge to hams, as it is generally known that signals on these bands do not travel at very great distances We would like to look back on the history of the VHF and UHF distance records, beginning from 1952, when the bands were reopened, up to the present time.
May 4, 1953: Over-the-horizon QSO between Tokyo and Mito City, 110 km by JAlEE & JAlDI. Jul 14, 1953: First long distance 6 meter QSO by Es reflection between JA1FC & JA6BV.
Apr 29, 1954: Successful DX QSO over 1,000 km between Sapporo and Osaka, between JA8AJ & JA3CQ by Es. also in May of the same year, a new distance record of 1,650 km was established between JA8CF & JA6DN, between the northern tip of Hokkaido and the southern tip of Kyushu.
Jan 22, 1956: At 1330 JST, JA1AHS successfully had a QSO with VK4NG in Queensland, Australia resulting in the first overseas QSO on 6 meters, a distance of about 7,500 km.
Mar 2, 1956: JA6FR, Saga, had an "ultra-DX" QSO with LU9MA of Argentina, South America, a distance of about 19,000 km. This established the record as the first LU and South American QSO on 6 meters. Also, on March 24th of the same year, a 19,190 km record was set when a QSO was made with LU3EX. This broke the record held for 9 years by the QSO between J9AAO, Okinawa and CE9AH, Chile, a distance of 16,800 km.
Oct 28, 1956: JA1AUH had a QSO with K6EDY, which was considered one of the most difficult areas to QSO with on 6 meters, due to propagation on that path. This set the record for the first North American QSO.
Jan 28, 1957: First QSO with Marshall Islands between JA3JJ and KX6BQ.
Mar 4, 1957: JA1GP had a QSO with CX2RE, Uruguay, a distance of 18,000 km.
Mar 4, 1957: JA1GP had the first QSO with Chile, CE3QG.
Apr 10, 1957: JA6FR and PY2AXX - first QSO with Brazil.
Sep 28, 1957: JA1VD and DU1GF - first QSO with Philippines.
Since that was the peak of Cycle #19, the fall DX season, North America was coming in every day. At the same time, VE (Canada), KL7 (Alaska), KH6 (Hawaii) signals were also heard every day.
Feb 13, 1958: First QSO with New Zealand, JAlAXE and ZL1ADP.
Mar 1, 1958: First QSO with Hong Kong, JA3CE & VS6CJ.
Mar 23, 1958: QSO with Brazil, JA6FR & PY3BW. (19,800 km)
Mar 27, 1958: First QSO with New Guinea, JA4HM & VK9BW.
Mar 27, 1958: First QSO with Papua, JA3AB and VK9XK.
May 15, 1958: First QSO with South Africa, JAlAXE & ZS1SW. This was a long-awaited QSO, resulting in QSO's confirmed with 5 continents... only Europe remained. At that time W stations had already contacted Europe and quite a few stations had completed their WAC after having a QSO with JA stations. Also, Region 1 stations in Europe and Africa were not licensed for 50 MHz, however, the IGY gave special permission for such operations and it was with those stations that QSO's were made.
Oct 9, 1958: JA3CE & CT3AE (Madeira Island) had a QSO establishing the new record via long path for 50 MHz of 25,000 km.
Sep 10, 1959: For 2 years in a Africa had a QSO accomplished the row Africa was open to Japan. JA3CE & ZS3ZJ, South West which measured 13,700 km. In the spring of 1959, VK4NG first WAJA Award.
Cycle 19, which peaked in 1957 and 1958, gradually decreased, leaving these records in its wake. On the other hand, QSOs within Japan increased using Es, and in June 1959 JA1AAT and JAlBIR received their 50 MHz WAJA for working 46 prefectures (but not 0kinawa). While 6 meters was enjoying a lot of activity, the 2 meter band (144-148 MHz) was dead. Finally, in December 1959, 2 MHz of this band were taken away, and no one seemed to mind. When you listen to the over-crowded conditions on 2 meters today, you realise what a pity it is that those 2 MHz were taken away. As Cycle 19 sunspot activity decreased, the only DX available on 6 meters was VK, KG6, V56 and KR6 (presently JR6, Okinawa). DX signals gradually diminished year by year. Even in 1964, at the lowest sunspot activity point, VK signals were still heard occasionally. But after March 31st of that year the VK 6 meter band was shortened by 2 MHz, leaving only 52 - 54 MHz. That was due to TV stations in Melbourne and Brisbane being assigned to 50 - 52 MHz. Conditions worsened, and VK signals were no longer heard, causing the band to be very quiet. Even VK4NG whom we could always count on to be there when the band opened disappeared, although he held out on 50.24 MHz until October 31st,1965, and then QSYed to 52.2 MHz before the band went dead. After that the only foreign stations we could hear at all were mainly KR6 (Okinawa) and HM (Korea) which we could work during Es periods. At that time, Okinawa had not yet been returned to Japan by the U.S. Government, so it was considered to be a separate country.
Nov 5, 1965: Japanese living in Okinawa were permitted to use their KR callsigns on 6 and 2 meters. Up until that time they only had HF privileges. The authorised frequencies and permissible modes were somewhat different from JAs on the mainland. The 6 meter band was 50 - 51 MHz, and 2 meters was 144 - 148 MHz. The modes permitted were Al, A3, A3A, A3H, A3J, Fl and F3 with a maximum power input of 50 watts.
In 1966, the number of sunspots gradually rose to 20, and in March of that year it rose to an average of 40. From the VK & Western Australia VHF Group. we received word of the establishment of a beacon at 52.006 MHz with the callsign VK6VF. The frequency was later changed. The JA4IGY beacon also went on the air, in A2 mode at 50.5 MHz, beginning at 1500 JST on January 16th, sending & VVV de JA4IGY. All-transistor 6 meter hand-held 1 watt rigs became popular during that year, with most of the activity mainly A3 mode at 50.3 MHz.
In October of 1966 the sunspots were over 60 and VK stations, which were thought to be very difficult to hear on 52 MHz, were beginning to be heard again. Finally, the VK-JA route was once again reopened when a Japanese station had a QSO with VK4ZAZ. Others soon followed. At this time some Japanese stations wished to QSO via SSB on 50 MHz and the word from Australia was that VK3AMK and others were already using this mode. We soon realised that SSB was rapidly developing overseas.
The History Of Cycle 20 And After Vhf SSB Appears On The Scene
The first appearance of SSB on the VHF/UHF bands occurred on 6 meters. SSB first became noticeable on 6 meters when AM was at its peak on the band, while at the same time the HF bands were fairly saturated with SSB signals. At first, very few SSB signals were heard on 6 meters even in the big cities. Some SSB QSOs could be heard in Tokyo at 50.35 MHz and in Yokohama at 50.25 MHz. At that time you could still hear a lot of AM signals on the HF bands, and many 6 meter operators hadn't yet heard of SSB. There were no SSB sets for 6 meters on the market yet, so most of the 6 meter SSB stations on the air at that time were using home-brewed rigs. Furthermore, there were more stations using self-made dedicated transceivers than transverters.
In 1968 the first VHF SSB meeting was held in Tokyo, organised by those who were on 6 meter SSB. About 20 hams from in and around Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, etc., showed up and presented their opinions on choosing frequencies for SSB operation, so that the small number of SSB stations on the band could operate more efficiently. The decision was to operate on 50.075 and 50.575 MHz. By doing this, the stations who were on SSB but had been having difficulty in having QSOs could easily find another station to QSO with by monitoring those frequencies. Thereafter, SSB QSOs increased and stations who previously hadn't contacted each other began to emerge. JA VHF and the age of SSB began to get into full swing. The 50.075 frequency became the location of the first '155B roll call" in the Kanto area, and groups of stations in other parts of Japan followed suit. Also, at that time it was decided that on VHF, SSB would be assigned to the low end of the band. Looking overseas, VK stations which could now be heard occasionally, were noticeably coming up on SSB, including VK3AMK, VK8KK, VK8AU and others.
Around this time, the number of sunspots continued to increase, rising to an average of over 110. All of us began to look for a repeat of Cycle 19. We heard that stations in North and South America, which came in strong during Cycle 19 were now on SSB, so AM stations would have to turn on their BFOs to hear them. In 1968 the first commercially made 50 MHz transverter appeared on the market and the number of stations migrating from HF to VHF increased. The number of SSB VHF stations throughout Japan was on the rise.
During the Es period, SSB signals were heard from all areas of Japan, and stations accomplishing AJD (All Japan Districts) on 50 MHz SSB began to appear. Even though we were in Cycle 20, the sunspot count was surprisingly small. At the peak in the summer of 1968, the number recorded was only 129. In the spring, ZL2ANF and others, mixed with VK signals could be heard. Guam (K7HIX/KG6) on SSB and Wake Island (KH6CH/KW6) on AM/SSB were active during this period and were worked by many JAs. Also, Marshall Islands (KX6FX) and the Philippines (DUlMR) were heard on SSB. Almost all DX stations were now heard on SSB. In June of that year Ogasawara Island, consisting of Chichijima, Hahajima, Iwo Jima, etc., and Minamitori Jima were officially returned to Japan resulting in two new countries in JA-land with the new prefix of JDl. Before these islands were returned, KG6I was heard on HF, but no signals on VHF had ever been heard from there, so JA station greatly anticipated VHF operations from there. But even though the islands were returned to Japan, we were prohibited from going to Ogasawara at first, so those plans had to be postponed.
After that time some stations were licensed for operation and came up on VHF, but weren't able to contact the mainland. It was in 1972 that the mainland and Ogasawara finally got together. Beginning in April of that year, travel by ship to Ogasawara was permitted, and many stations from the mainland began travelling there. The first contact was made on May 4th by JD1YAC (JAlYNE NEC Fuchu Amateur Radio Club) who contacted many JA stations using a doublet antenna on 50 MHz with an output of 3 watts. The operators were JD1AEO (JA1VNA), JD1AEQ (JH1MKQ), JD1AES (JR1CQW) and JD1AER (JH1XOX). Two months later, from July 27th to August 3rd, a full-scale VHF-only expedition was held by JD1AFM (JA1LZK), JD1AFI (JAlLJS), JD1AFL (JA1NVG), etc., and gave many JA's their first JD1 contacts mainly on 6 meter SSB, AM and CW. The other JD1 Minamitorishima, is still not open to the general public to this day. The defence forces and weather bureau personnel are stationed there, and are heard on the air often during their off duty hours. Prior to Ogasawara, JA7HLP worked JD1AAH on 50.2 MHz on AM at 1645 JST on June 30th, 1970, the very first QSO to the mainland.
In March 1969, the beacon from Cook Island, sending "VVV de ZK1AA" started to come in strong. Also, signals from Yagi beam antennas from North America during the spring and fall seasons from 1100 through 1300 JST were very strong every day. You could make a call on this beacon and get an answer, so many JAs had QSOs from 1969 - 1971. On October 26, 1970 at 1230 JST, the first Hawaiian station since Cycle 19 was worked, KH6GRU on SSB. On November 7th, the long awaited contact with a W station was made when JA1MRS contacted W6ABN and WB6UYG. Finally the effort and patience of JA1MRS paid off -every morning he turned his antenna to the north-east and continuously sent out CQs.
In March of 1971 when Cycle 20 was beginning to head downward, JA2IIY had a QSO with an Argentine station. That was on March 16, 1971 at 1120 JST. The Argentine station was LU1MBJ at 50.1 MHz on AM. At this time JA2IIY was on SSB. Since the sunspot count was now decreasing to an average of 73, we can conclude that the sunspot count rose unusually high on that day.
While many stations became active on 6 meter SSB, home-brew enthusiasts always seeking new technical challenges, started to move to 2 meters. Utilising their experience from 6 meters, they clustered around 144.125 MHz. Two meters was the world of FM - there were very few stations that would respond to an SSB signal. In addition, since there was not anything like Es propagation there, the numbers of stations didn't increase like they did on 6 meters. On this band, stations held roll calls on 144.215 MHz, looking for an increase in the number of stations. The 2 meter lover's group held SSB training sessions to teach SSB techniques in an effort to get hams to QSY to this band. When 2 meters was the world of FM, the antennas were vertical, but it was the SSB stations who brought horizontal antennas to this band. Soon after, manufacturers started to come out with 2 meter rigs and activity suddenly increased. More and more stations started to come up on SSB as they became weary of the crowded FM band. In 1973 the government permitted SSB operation on 430 MHz, which prior to that time was not allowed on the band. Just like the 2 meter story, SSB stations began moving from 2 meters to 430 MHz one after another.
At 0000 JST on May 15th, 1972, the reins of government in Okinawa were returned to Japan and the Okinawa prefix for Japanese citizens changed from KR8 to JR6. U.S. hams attached to the military changed from the KR6 callsign to KA6. KA6's were then to be considered to be U.S. military treating stations on Okinawa. he same as those on the mainland of Japan. The KR6 prefixes were very familiar to many, especially KR6RI and KR6RS who had been active on 6 meters, were longer heard at this point. Okinawa became a Japanese Prefecture, adding one more Prefecture needed for the WAJA Award, for a total of 47.
That year there was a lot of activity from the Pacific Islands, such as KX6HK and KX6HZ (Marshall Islands), KC6AO (Turk Island), KG6RA (Saipan), other KG6's from Guam, DU1JS and DU1EJ (Philippines) and VS6AI (Hong Kong). Especially active was KX6HK of Kwajalien Island (one of the Marshall Islands) who used two transmitters (one for AM/CW and the other for SSB) and three antennas on two frequencies (50.1 MHz for JA and Hawaii and 52 MHz for Australia), and contacted many JA stations on 6 meters.
In 1973 as the number of sunspots greatly decreased to an average of 35, fewer and fewer DX stations were heard day by day. The very active KX6HK from the Marshall Islands QSYed to the OSCAR Satellite, KX6HZ returned to the USA, and the 6 meter band from the Pacific side gradually became silent. In early June, like a fresh breeze, JD1AGN got on the air from Minamitorishima with Es propagation and had contacts with many JA stations. This operation on VHF from Minamitorishima after a long interval, began on June 5th by JA1QCQ (JD1AGN) and JA1FRA (JD1AHZ) who were there on business. The first QSO was with JA1SSN at 1148 JST on SSB, and thereafter they contacted a total of 182 stations, mainly on SSB. The rig used by JD1AGN was turned over to the Minamitorishima Weather Bureau Ham Club, JD1YAA, which had up to that time only been on HF. On February 15th of the following year JD1YAA started transmitting a beacon on 50.110 MHz, which became very valuable for JA mainland stations to check for unusual propagation. Many QSOs on SSB were made, and this station became no less popular then Ogasawara. On April 10th at 1748 JST the first QSO was accomplished between KS6 and JD1. KS6DH (American Samoa) called after hearing the beacOn. This became the forerunner of. contacts between KS6 and the JA mainland, which occurred on April 16th, only 6 days later, at 1530 JST on 50.101 MHz.
JA8AVN, having his first QSO on 6 meters, marked the point where the number of hams on this band exceeded 10,000, reminding and surprising us by the great numbers. After that time, VHF CW contacts increased and in the JAl call area a VHF CW group was formed, whereas they started to have roll calls on CW.
In 1974 from July 11th through the 15th, a DXpedition to Yap Island (one of the Western Caroline Islands) was held by JA1NVG, JF1UOJ, JG1ICY and others, and the signal from KC6SZ was heard on 6 meters. The first QSO was made with JA8EJH on July 12th at 1607 JST. For three days, until July 14th, contacts with a total of 181 stations were made and the first 6 meter overseas DXpedition was successful, reaching the stage where JA VHF operators had now entered the international arena.
In the following year, in October 1975, a second DXpedition was held by JA1NVG in the Western Carolines, this time from Satawal Island, again under the callsign of KC6SZ. The first QSO took place on October 17th at 1355 JST with JA2GHT and ended with a total of 147 stations worked. For two consecutive years the DXpedition was successful. We might say that the big news of 1975 was the success of the first EME QSO between JA6DR and W6PO on August 30th. This successful 2 meter EME QSO opened the JA station's eyes to space communications, and resulted in an increase in the number of stations who wanted to try moon-bounce communications.
In the following year, on January 1st, 1976, EME and satellite communications given a new classification as "Space Communications", distinguishing it from other of amateur radio modes, making it easier to get permission, which up to that time been difficult to get.
In May of the same year a DXpedition to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the JARL was held at the newly designated country, Okinotorishima. On the afternoon of May 30th the callsign 7J1RL went on the air on 6 meters. The first QSO was with JH7KIO at 1854 JST and about 800 stations were contacted on Es propagation, which continued day after day. The following is part of a letter received from Mr. Nose, KH6IJ of Hawaii who had a QSO with a JA station in the early morning of July 8th, 1976: "When JA2QBZ answered my CQ on CW, I thought I was on 10 meters because he was so loud and clear, and I checked to make sure that I was on 50 MHz!".
Just like people couldn't believe the calls were coming from Japan, we were experiencing the same surprises and disbelief in Japan. No one ever thought that it was possible to receive a signal from Hawaii, 6,000 km away, during that season. There were some previous records for QSOs with Hawaii already established on 50 MHz, but those were all mad via the F2 layer when the sunspot count was high. This propagation was multi-hop Es, and since it was the first time this kind of DX came in during the lowest sunspot activity, it was thought to be very exceptional propagation. During the spring and fall DX season that year about the only news was Australia coming in on TEP (transequatorial) mode.
SSB operation continued to progress from 6 meters, to 2 meters, to 430 MHz and up to 1.2 GHz. On 430 MHz, in spite of the fact that permission to operate on this band had bee.
late in coming, manufactured transceivers were on the market rather early, which helped t increase the number of stations on that band. At this time some stations attempted to break into SSB on 1.2 GHz but it wasn't allowed yet; permission was only given on a "special" basis, and was rather cumbersome so most people limited their SSB operations to test transmissions. On August 31st of that year, however, JH1BRY received a license for 1.2 GHz. Meanwhile, meetings of SSB lovers were held and they aggressively applied for licence in order to open 1.2 GHz to SSB.
On January 4th, 1977 the first successful MS communication was made between JA8DXB a JA9BOH with the help of the Draconis Iota meteor group. It was on CW, on 144.050 MHz. MS communications was already being done in Europe and America but this was the first JA QSO After space communication was first allowed in January of 1976, the number of stations applying for permission to operate 500 watt EME stations began to increase. JA6CZD had a QSO with K2UYH and LX 1DB on 432 MHz EME on March 6th, 1977 between 1900 and 2200 UTC and this became the first 430 MHz space communication after space communications were permitted in Japan.
At this time we started to come out of the lowest solar activity point and DX on 6 meters started to improve. In the spring of that year the beacon of KH6EQI, Hawaii, on 50.104 MHz started to come in. Also KH6IMH/DU2, K9PNT/DU2, and others from the Philippine started to come in FB, as well as P29HV from Papua, New Guinea. Nearby, JD1YAA from Minami torishima and HL9WI from Korea were coming in strong. After a long interval, DX QSOs were once again possible. In May, KL7HAM of Alaska came in and many stations had QSOs with this "North American" station, although it was on Shemya Island on the western tip of Alaska. We hadn't heard KL7HAM for 6 years, since 1971. This became an unforgettable year for the 50 MHz DX operator. On the early morning of June 5th, W stations (North America mainland) started coming in. It was unbelievable - but it was happening People doubted what they were hearing. "W stations coming in, in this season?" So, as a result, 6 meters became like a madhouse from 0700 JST to past 0900 JST, with JA stations calling WB6ECD/6, WA6ABH, WB6NMT, WA6JRA and others. We hadn't heard W stations coming in on 6 meters for an interval of 7 years, since November 1970. Phone QSO's hadn't been heard since Cycle 19 so really the interval was 18 years.
The band was open to North America for a total of 8 days and many stations were worked including N6DX and W6PVB. This was multi-hop Es propagation - it taught us that we had to change our thinking about what we thought was "common propagation knowledge. " This multi-hop Es exists, basically, even up to the present time for 6 meter DX. In other words we used to say, until that day, that spring and fall were the overseas DX seasons, and the Es season was exclusively for local contacts, and receiving ultra-DX during the Es season was impossible, and you could not QSO with North American stations if the sunspot count was under 100, etc. None of that was applicable any longer. This series of openings taught us that it is possible to QSO with ultra-DI stations with multi-hop Es, when you can t use the F2 layer with a small sunspot count, so therefore you have chances the year round to have DX QSOs on 6 meters, not only in the spring and fall.
After the success of the MS QSOs on 144 MHz, other stations began to try QSOs by MS. On October 21st and the 22nd of that year, the maximum day of the Orionis meteor group activity, the first MS QSO on 50 MHz was tried, and many stations succeeded in having QSOs. Ever since that time, just before and after the day of maximum meteor activity, "CQ MS" on 2 meters and 6 meters are heard.
On October 9th at 1103 JST, JA6YTY and HM5HD succeeded in having 2 meter QSOs on CW and SSB, followed by a QSO on FM on May 9th, 1976, setting a new record between Japan and Korea. On January 1st, 1978 the band plan for VHF and UHF was fully implemented. On February 24th we received some big news - a JA station succeeded in having the first QSO with a VK station on 2 meters. That QSO was on SSB on 144.110 MHz at 2059 JST, between JH6TEW (Kikuchi-shi, Kumamoto Prefecture) and VK8GB (Darwin, Australia), which was a super record for 2 meter DX when you consider that the distance between the two cities is 4,992 km. Regrettably, this did not set a new world's record because one half month prior to this, on February 12th, KP4EOR (Puerto Rico) and LU6DJZ (Argentina) had an SSB QSO on 2 meters, a distance of 5,000 km. Those QSOs were by transequatorial propagation. QSOs between VK and JA were FB after that and we were able to have QSOs with VK8VV, etc. also from Darwin, and in the TE season in spring and fall many stations, mainly JA6 and also the 3, 4, and 5 areas had QSOs with Australia.
In 1978, DX on 6 meters was in full swing. First, on March 3rd, CE3OK came in from Chile, South America, after a long interval since Cycle 19, and had a QSO with JA5CMO. Besides this, successful QSOs with new countries were as follows:
Mar 14, 1978: 1742 JST, JH6DFJ - 3D2CM (Fiji Islands) first QSO.
Mar 26, 1978: 1326 JST, JH1HHX - FK8AB (New Caledonia) first QSO.
Mar 30, 1978: 1705 JST JA4MBM - YJ8KM (New Hebrides Island) first QSO.
Apr 29, 1978: 1253 JST, JA6IMJ - CR9AJ (Macau) first QSO.
Besides those stations, YJ8ZV (VK2ZZV operating), YJ8WL (VK2ZWL operating), FK8AX and 3D2BB and from Papua New Guinea, where there used to be only one station (P29HV), suddenly came to life with P29ZWW, P29ZDU, P29L5, P29ZNL and P29BB and others becoming active. P29 was no longer a rare prefix! From April 29th through May 5th, CR9AJ (Macau) and VS6HK (Hong Kong) were put on the air by JA operators JAlUT, JAlUPA, JAlSIM, JA1FBC, and~JH1KXJ. CR9AJ, the first time for a station to get on the air from Macau on 6 meters, resulted in QSOs with about 1,000 JA stations due to FB propagation. From that time until CR9AJ went QRT in 1979, it was operated by CR9AJ himself as well as by many JAs.
In June of that year during the Es season, W stations were coming in, just like they had in the previous year, and proved the reliability of multi-hop propagation during the Es season. As for 2 meters UA0LFK, RA0LFI, RA0LAN, etc., were coming in from Vladivostok with Es propagation and many JA stations had QSOs. Around this time on the UHF band and on 6 meters, JCC hunting began to become popular. JA2GHT received the first 6 meter WACA on June 5th.
As the sunspot count increased rapidly, even beyond the forecast at first, 6 meter DX began to come in FB. JA stations conducted DXpeditions one after another that year. From August 5th through the 15th, there was an operation from 4D88UT, Philippines, by JAlUT and others, and from August 20th through August 26th KG6RO (Saipan) operated by JA1NVG, JA1QIY, JA1RJU, JE1HYR, and others. And from October 3rd through the 8th, VK9ZR was opera ted from a country which was rare even on the HF band, Mellish Reef. JA1KSO, the JA participant, worked 6 meters and had QSOs with about 450 JA stations on the 8th, the very last day. In this way, new countries from the Pacific were coming in.
Sep 16, 1978: 1527 JST, JI1HHX - FO8DR (Tahiti) first QSO.
Sep 21, 1978: 1907 JST JF3DWO - VK9ZM (Willis Island) first QSO.
Oct 6, 1978: 1246 JST, JE2KCR - VK9ZR (Mellish Reef) first QSO.
During the DX season in the fall, LU (Argentina), the first South American station during Cycle 21 came in, and had QSOs mainly between JA8 stations and LU3EX, LU1DAU and LU9MA. In November, there was an opening to North America by F2 propagation and some of the stations worked were N6CT, K6RNQ, K6HCP, and others.
As we entered 1979, the sunspot numbers increased rapidly, and in the spring DX season, North and South American stations came in one after another. There were especially good openings to South America mainly in March and April, and JA stations had many QSOs with stations located on the opposite side of the earth from Japan, such as LU (Argentina stations, LU3EX, LU8AHW, PY (Brazil) stations, PY1RO, PY2XB and others, and CE (Chile) stations, CE3OK, CE4CP, an CX8BE of Uruguay. On March 25th, after a long interval since Cycle 19, the beacon from ZS6LN from Africa was heard on 50.056 MHz. On April 1st the beacon was again heard, but regrettably a QSO was not successful. ZS6LN had QSOs with five KH6 stations on April 16th, which indicated the conditions for Africa were unusually good.
Feb 5, 1979: 1107 JST, JA7NAM - VK9NI (Norfolk Island) first QSO.
Feb 8, 1979: 2225 JST, JR6HJD - HS1SD (Thailand) first QSO.
Mar 10, 1979: 1016 JST, JA8RKC - ZL1BIQ/K (Kermadec Island) first QSO.
Mar 18, 1979: 1918 JST, JA5FDR - H44DX (Solomon Islands) first QSO.
Apr 29, 1979: 2120 JST, JA6IMJ - YB0X (Indonesia) first QSO.
May 1, 1979: 2218 JST, JR6BU - 9N1BMK (Nepal) first QSO.
May 6, 1979: 1701 JST, JH4ELP - VU2RM (India) first QSO.
Besides the above mentioned QSOs, YJ8PD, KC6IN (East Caroline Islands), DU1GF, ZK1AA (Cook Island), KX6BU (Marshall Islands), H44PT and VK4ZZI/H44 and others, as well as a Liberian ship (A8KQ/MM) and other new stations came in.
9N1BMK from Nepal, operated for five days by JA8BMK beginning on May 1st, succeeded in having a QSO with an Okinawan station, but was only heard faintly in Northern Japan and some parts of Western Japan. The reason for the increase in 6 meter DXpeditions was that DXpeditions, primarily for HF participation, started to include 6 meter gear in their equipment line up, because they had heard about the improving conditions on 6 meters.
Between August 10th and 15th, there were operations from C21AA (Nauru) by JAlUT and others. In September there was a DXpedition from the South Pacific by N6DX: 5W1CF (Western Samoa) from September 13th through 18th and A35DX (Tonga) from September 21st through the 22nd. JA stations had many QSOs with these stations. Since the age of transceivers had arrived, the operations now took on a new character with wide-split frequency operations, etc., demonstrating how to handle the pile-ups as the number of VHF stations increased.
Sep 13, 1979: 1832 JST, JE2KCR - 5W1CF (Western Samoa) first QSO.
Sep 21, 1979: 1645 JST, JG1TRW - A35DX (Tonga) first QSO.
Oct 27, 1979: 1315 JST, JA9QYC - VK3OT/LH (Lord Howe Island) first QSO.
In October, DXpeditions by JA stations from the Western Caroline Islands, where there had been no operations since 1975, were held in succession. KC6SZ and KC6ZZ from Yap Island and KC6SX from Palau Island were put on the air. During these DXpeditions a total of 3,500 JA stations were able to work the Western Caroline Islands. And since KC6ZZ had been on the air from Ponape Island of the Truk Island chain prior to the Yap Island operation, this resulted in the unusual situation where the same callsign had been used from two different countries. On October 7th at 1051 JST, HC1JX from Ecuador was worked. Ecuador had not bee heard from since March of 1958. With the Ecuador QSO, we now succeeded in working all South American countries since Cycle 19. Also, HC1BI was coming in. The DXpedition on Lord Howe Island with the callsign VK2/LH was operated by VK2ATZ, VK2BYX, VK3OT, and others and was on the air for two days. On October 27th and 28th, many JA stations had QSOs with this new country on the 52 MHz band.
In the fall of 1979 with the help of the peak of Cycle 21, beginning in the last week of October, conditions improved greater than forecaster, and the sunspot count rose to an average of near 200. Especially the conditions for North America were excellent, seeming to surpass Cycle 19 in 1957 and 1958 which was said to be the greatest in history Especially there was an opening on November 8th when the eastern part of North America, including the East Coast of Canada, such as VEl, etc., came in very strong. On this day QSO's could be made with all of North America from W1 through W0. There were not many precedents like this, where you could work the eastern part of North America, even during Cycle 19. This left very "no-QSO-yet states" for JA operators. During the WIVE opening, XE2BC (Mexico) and HP2XPW (Panama) were also coming in.
Nov 5, 1979: 0712 JST, JA1RJU - XE2BC (Mexico) first QSO.
Nov 6, 1979: 0809 JST, JA3JXJ - HP2XPW (Panama) first QSO.
Nov 20, 1979: 1800 JST, JA6IMJ - 4S7EA (Sri Lanka) first QSO.
XE2BC from Mexico was run by WB6NMT from the "Radio Club de Baja, California", which was located in Tijuana, a town just over the California border. HP2XPW was ex-KZ5NW, as this QSO occurred shortly after the Canal Zone was returned to Panama, and the callsign was changed to the HP2 prefix. Many US stations completed their WAC by working JA station because US stations could work Europe and Asia rather easily due to good propagation there, but for them, getting Asia was the most difficult. The first 6 meter WAC was achieved by K6GDI in 1957.
For JA stations, QSOs to Africa were possible at the time of Cycle 19, but Europe was difficult. It wasn't only due to poor conditions, but mostly because Europe had no 6 meter allocation yet. During the WARC-G Conference in 1979 there was a proposal for at least some allocation in Europe on 6 meters, but unfortunately it took time to materialise.
From 1979 through 1980 when Cycle 21 was at its peak, 6 meter signals were coming in every day. During the daytime on March 4, 1980, the ZB2VHF beacon from Gibralter came in on long path, much to the surprise of 6 meter JA operators. We found out that to contact Europe on 6 meters was more than just a dream.
On April 10, 1979 at 0912 JST, at last the long waited first QSO with Europe happened This was between ZB2BL and JA1BK. But only four stations were able to have a QSO with Europe that day. JA1TGS had a QSO with EL2FY (Liberia) on October 4th of that year and became the first JA to accomplish 6 meter WAC.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about the VHF history in Japan. Although a few sentences were a bit hazy in meaning (due to translation into the English language), I would like to thank Roy Waite W9PQN for his undertaking of this chore.