This evening, I managed to successfully copy G3WKW in Hampshire on JT65B digital weak signal mode on 2m, although Bob only copied a few pings from me, so no QSO. We will be trying JT9-1 soon. One of the issues is lack of experience with the JT65B software package. Bob was running up 40W to a beam whereas I was just using 2W to the halo. The power difference mattered. I think with patience and more time we could have completed a 2-way QSO.
This experiment makes me think that I need more VHF power if I am to take the 2m band seriously. Somewhere around 50W to a small beam is probably what is needed to regularly work decent ranges with weak signal modes in flat conditions. Working 2m with 2W and a halo is fun but this is a case where more power would be more fun.