DXCC on Top Band is Rare

Lately I’ve downplayed my DXCC achievement on 160M because one night I made one QSO from an East Coast remote. I have atoned for my sins and redacted that QSO from my award points, but the remote heard so much more DX in Tennessee than anything I’ve ever heard on the West Coast. I received the little 160M plate the other day and added it to my 5BDXCC plaque, bringing the total up to 9BDXCC.

Almost by accident, I looked at this DXCC certificate, and holy smokes, not many have made DXCC on Top Band on either coasts. Statistics wise, this might just end up being a bigger deal than my Honor Roll or 9BDXCC award. I know for a fact that 160M on the West Coast is very hard to do when it’s 100% from your own back yard. A nice surprise for a gorgeous spring day here in the East Bay near San Francisco.

I wonder if any news will come out of IDXC – things have been quite boring since the first quarter in 2016, when 5 out of 10 top 10 Most Wanted were activated. I think that quarter was a record. What a time!

When Bouvet is Finally Activated . . .

When we get close to an actual Bouvet activation, I might pull the trigger on this bugger. ACOM makes my favorite amplifiers – and I like their TRI tuning circuitry. When you have to tune manually – you don’t miss potential problems that you do when you have a solid state amp with an auto tuner. On top of that – tube amps seem much more forgiving than solid state amps.

The biggest problem for me right now is that the last two that I need probably won’t be activated anytime soon. Its not really a problem – because there’s no hurry to make a decision, but I have to admit, i was pretty excited about 3Y0Z. The big question for me is whether or not its even worth purchasing an amplifier for 2 QSO’s. But the “force is strong within me” as far as earning HR #1 from my own back yard. That has been my goal since July 2001 – and I think I am one of the last to be able to do this sort of thing.

The Best is Yet to Come

I woke up with this Cy Coleman song in my head, immortalized by my parents favorite, and fellow New Jersian, Frank Sinatra. It was written in 1959, the year I was born at Passaic General Hospital – where William Carlos Williams was the head Pediatrician at the time. So much NJ Name Dropping! I won’t mention The Feelies, Yo La Tengo or the Bongos . . .  Ooooops . . .

Lately at work, I’ve been doing some of my best work in my 37 year career. I have 8 years until I retire, so it’s very reassuring that I’m loving working at Credit Karma and doing so well.

I just finished my DXCC goals, but still have two last ATNOs to work them all, so it’s not over … Yet. Its “icing on the cake” time! Funny fact, I’ve been a DXer one year longer than my first marriage. I feel especially lucky to have met Kat, my life’s soul mate.

I’ve lost 10 pounds after starting weight training just over 11 weeks ago.

Just when you think something is over, if you look carefully, you can find that the indeed, the best is yet to come.

VK0EK – Heard Island DXpedition, Two Years Later

Its hard to believe its already been 2 years since the VK0EK Team ended their epic journey in Perth, Australia. I’ve been thinking about fund raising and how much work we put into it, and the “hype machine” I created – where we kept the “buzz” in everyone’s ear. We easily made budget, and I am especially proud of that – because I believe when all is said and done – making budget is an important part of the DXpedition. These things are only getting more expensive . . .

Heard Island is down at #31 on the Most Wanted List, and I expect it will stay out of the Top 10 for at least another 8 years. It usually takes between 10 – 15 years to climb back up after a mega DX-pedition nets as many QSO’s as VK0EK did.

I’ve moved on big time since then – I’ve made all of my DXCC Goals and VK0EK was my “swan song” as far as co-organizing a DXpedition. It was the only time I was in that role – and it still gives me a great feeling when I remember all of the hard work of the team and how we ended up with great press coverage and DXpedition of the Year.

EW7LO on 40M SP

Besides working anything in or around the African continent – I do like the polar path to EU. I find the “polar flutter” very soothing for some reason. Come to think about it – its funny how us hams experience such sensations that the rest of the non ham world will never experience. I know many people who like science fiction and whatnot – but making QSO’s using the ionosphere – and especially with CW just has this certain something that no other activity or experience in my life is like.

Its truly unique and I do feel lucky that I have experienced this invisible magnetic force that surrounds us and connects us all around the world.

Making a CW qso via the polar sounds like science fiction!

ESP8266

Mike, KJ4Z told me about a great Arduino compatible board that has WiFi and an ADC (analog to digital converter). He also said he doubts with the whip antenna that I use for the Field Strength meter that I need a special Low Pass Filter.

This board looks perfect for what I want – and I can even use MicroPython – which would be fun. I like C on Arduino as well – they are pretty similar anyway – close enough for this kind of project.

Thanks Mike!

Raspberry Pi Zero W Remote Field Strength Meter

Last year I built this cool little Field Strength Meter that uses a circuit from the 70’s and a germanium diode. It is plenty sensitive and broad banded – meaning it has enough voltage to send to the input pin of a Raspberry Pi Zero W – and which could then be sent to the shack via WiFI.

It would be easy to package such a gizmo – and then place several around my antennas so I could measure their patterns in real time. The more sensors, the higher the resolution.

I’m going to guess that this Adafruit Analog to Digital converter could be used to take the micro voltage that the meter receives and send it to the Pi. Then have the Pi transmit the value(s) to my laptop. I’d have to have an app on my laptop that could read the values and plot them in real time.

Using the Raspberry Pi Zero W has these advantages:

  1. I can use Python – or better yet – Adafruit’s micro Python
  2. The board is small and has wiFI built in
  3. It could be packaged and powered easily

The only worry is would its own WiFI signal swamp and overload the field strength meter? I think I’d have to have a Low Pass Filter so I only received HF frequencies – and not the UHF frequency that WiFI transmits on.

Well, waddya know – there is a Low Pass Filter board for the Pi – Cool idea – not sure if it could work . . . but it seems like all the ingredients are ready made and plug and play. Seems like the code would be trivial too – just read the voltge on a GPIO pin me thinks . . .