This morning on 7112 MHz @ 1430 z was one of the most exhilarating contact's I've ever made on the Ham Radio bands. I was tuning around the "old upper section of 40 meters" with the hopes of finding a "slow operator" that wanted to practice code. (I do this from time to time) when I heard W8IRT/HH calling CQ. I automatically assumed he was somewhere in Michigan or the Great Lakes Area. (I usually get into that area very well).
I've been hoping to find a station to work at 1,000 miles, with a watt, for several weeks now and thought this might be an opportunity......, if I transmitted at 500 mw.
That's the lowest power setting on my rig and also a power level I've NEVER used before. (I've used 1 watt several times).
To my amazement W8IRT/HH came right back to me and we started the QSO. It took several exchanges, but we completed the basics and were able to communicate despite severe QSB many times. I eventually upped the power to 5 watts (to spare his ears) but the first contact and the basic info was exchanged at the 500 mw level.
I didn't realize it at the time, but this was a "slow code net" for the Handi Hams group and they gather here every Friday between 9 am and 12 pm. (I wasn't hearing any other stations when I contacted Paul on the net)
I was confused with the /HH suffix of his call, but after looking up the call sign, it makes perfect sense. They are a dedicated "nonprofit rehabilitation and resource center, that advances the lives of children and adults experiencing barriers to health and independence".
One of the specialities of the "Handi Hams" is making "tapes" available to those with visual impairments. (for a Ham Radio Licence). I've personally known two operators in this valley that have achieved their licence from this group.
Paul W8IRT/HH lives in Beaverdam, Virginia which isn't very far from me. (about 220 miles) But the fact that I worked him with the "power of an ordinary hand held cell phone" just overwhelmed me!