The Top Band Chordal Hopper

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I had a blog that ran for years called “The Armchair DX-er“, and it basically ran its course. The idea behind that blog was mostly my ham radio road to DXCC Honor Roll and also my personal involvement with the 2016 VK0EK Heard Island DX-pedition, but that chapter of my life is done, and that blog had years worth of “cruft” that I did not want to clean up. At each milestone, I created a presentation that I usually gave at Pacificon or the International DX Convention in Visalia, and those can be downloaded here:

KY6R Antenna Presentations

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KY6R QSL showing a Hop Cone pinging around the ionosphere – shooting through the Golden Gate on its way to Orinda. This could have been FT5ZM or VK0EK, both of which I worked on Top Band – my all time personal best DX QSO’s ever.

I’m not a pack rat, and after a divorce in 2005, I tripled down on “traveling lite”, and its become a really great way of living. I only keep the minimal number of things that I need to live, plus the minimal amount of gear for my hobbies – which includes ham radio, photography and cycling. I have also become a lot more frugal because I will be retiring in about 9 years, maybe less. I’ve been a database software engineer for 37 years, and actually love what I do more than ever. I can create software faster than I ever have, I love to mentor the younger staff, and Credit Karma in San Francisco is truly the best company I have ever worked for. I’ve only been there about 3 months, but its a very successful company that has a big heart – proving you can make money and be socially responsible.


I sold my 2005 BMW X3 yesterday because I have been riding my bicycle to work for at least two years and it has been sitting in my driveway hardly ever used. It is a big deal because I purchased the car during my divorce, and now have been re-married to my wonderful wife Kat for 10 years – who I am very compatible with.

Part of selling my car is also political – after having a really hard time trying to understand how in the world we could ever end up where America is politically, I realize that there is a big separation between all of the hub bub media wise, the crazy politics that go on at the federal, state and local level, and that my life is not ganged to any politician directly. I made a list in my last blog which reminded me that I have the power to contribute to changing the world in a positive way – and that if each and every person practiced the art of “walking lightly” on this planet – it might last longer. Selling my car means we are now a one car family – and that is the best statement I can make. We also use as few resources as possible – less energy and water consumption, I ride my bike to BART and take mass transit to work – and the list I made in my last blog really surprised me. I was actually surprised at just how much power I have to contribute to the world in a positive way. “Be the change you want to happen in the world” has never felt so good and meant so much – and this is my reaction to the worst politics I have ever experienced in my life. But I can fight back with positive actions instead of jumping into the “pissing match”.

I got off of Facebook and almost left Twitter because I found the political landscape of this past year in the USA to be overwhelming and way over the top on social media, and frankly, depressing. The very good news is that I have worked through all of that and feel I can “reset” my blogging and avoid all of that unnecessary noise. I have lived through good and bad administrations, and I still believe that American People will always watch the government like a hawk and let their voices known. Democracy can be ugly though – and I guess I accept this because its far better to be messy than have an absolute dictatorship. Anyway, I have moved past my issues and am ready to get back to accentuating the positive things in life – which I feel I have a bounty of – wonderful wife, two great kids (young men actually), fantastic job, fun hobbies and decent health.

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These are the two ham radio DX-ing awards that I cherish the most – DXCC Honor Roll and DX-pedition of the year. Nothing will come close, except perhaps DXCC on 160M. We will see – these two are significant and I feel that having just received the DX-pedition of the Year that I have closed the door on a real “era” in my ham radio hobby. As they say, when one door closes, another opens – and I have always been forward thinking and looking.

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My current love and obsession ham radio wise is Top Band and all of the Low Bands. They offer the biggest challenge, and because I have accomplished what I have – the next “step up” in the DXCC Ladder is most certainly Top Band DX-ing. Even Top of Honor Roll seems to pale in comparison. I also love “living history”, and since 160M is just above the AM Broadcast band, there is a real sense of history that I feel when I make a CW QSO on Top Band. Each and every QSO is more special there than on any other band.

SO – this new blog will be similar to my old blog – but moving past where I was with the Armchair DX-er and looking forward down some new avenues.




2 Comments on “The Top Band Chordal Hopper

  1. *Whew!*. I’ve been following your blog for the past several years Rich, and today as part of my daily ham radio reading excursions, I headed over to the Armchair Dx’er (as I normally would) only to find the site had been parked!. I have to admit to a brief moment of panic …. where was I going to find the next thing to think about as I begin my foray into top band Dx’ing?
    Thankfully, I found the link to the TBCH (if I may take the liberty of abbreviating your blog) on your QRZ profile. Now I can get back to thinking about receive antennas!
    Frank, W1NK


    • Thanks Frank. I thought I was burned out, but then realized the old blog just ran it’s course and the new blog picks up where that one left off. I just had a big era end which I would call Honor Roll and DXpedition of the Year era. Now it’s full steam ahead on the Low Bands, especially 160M


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