Major 160M Opening

The most interesting part of this image is how much closer R1FJ, JW, JX, OX and TF look than on a flat map. In fact, they are not that much farther than FP was, which was my last new one on Top Band, and where FP was very loud here. This is a very good omen . . . 

I’ve only been chasing 160M seriously for about the last 3 years. Before that, I would load up some 80M antenna on 160M if there was a crazy good opening, but it was just a band slot QSO and that was when I still chased DXCC Challenge.

Last night, the Great Top Band God Pumptallica delivered – not for me, but for those in Washington and Montana, and parts of Oregon. There was the best opening between Scandinavia and the West Coast that I have seen in my short 160M “pursuit”. It also included quite a few EU countries as the night progressed, and it went from about 0336 – 0600z.

The A was 3, K was 0 and SSN was 0, with no storms, so conditions on paper sure looked good.

For a short time in that time frame, even stations like mine were proclaiming “First 160M EU”.

The Top Band God, Pumptallica

So, here’s to Pumptallica that I get my first EU QSO on 160M. If the band is changing that way for the West Coast, then it could open up some serious doors for me.

The “Bouvet Bump” Continues . . .

The latest NOAA Sunspot Cycle Progression plot showing data through September, 2017, continues with the good news – that the cycle has a nice little uptick even at this low point in the cycle. FT5ZM was active at the peak of this cycle – and it looks like 3Y0Z might get a respite from the downward march of Cycle 24.

Conditions have been quite good lately, actually. I am hearing ZS night and day on 40M, so that’s very encouraging. I did hear VK9XI barely – but not well enough to call, but still, that’s a pretty far away station, and I was able to switch from a noisy antenna to one that made the difference between hearing them or not. That confirms that my RX antenna project a year ago did deliver on the promise of having several “guns” in my RX arsenal. They are going to Cocos-Keeling next, and I also expect that they will be unworkable. But you just never know on Top Band.

Fingers crossed that the 3Y0Z continues with this lucky trend.

The Great Top Band Pumpkin

Yes, I’m resorting to asking metal gourds to help me improve my 160M DXCC count.

This is the pagan God Pumptallica … God of the Top Band Harvest …

At this point, I pray thee metallic pumpkin head that I get to 90 soon.

Lets see how this works out.

160M: The Long and Winding Road

The first week of October has passed, and the last “new one” was on September 19 – so I guess that’s close enough to my first and only “Fall 2017 Top Band New One”. Before that it was July.

For the first time I am hearing VK9XI – ESP, but enough to get his call. I have to use the DX Engineering DV-40-P 40M phased array because it has less noise than the Mod Bob on RX, The Wellbrook ALA1530LNP has noise right now – and so I will wait and see. Maybe I’ll have to wait for a “sunrise bump”. Oh brother – the CQP contest has someone CQing right on top of VK9XI. Ugggh.

I’m sure if I lived on the East Coast I would have had 160M DXCC and 9BDXCC a long time ago, so in a way, I guess I have to be happy that I’ve been able to work 88 on 160M – and that I have this long and slow challenge. At this pace it will be 2019 before I make 9BDXCC and DXCC on 160M. At that time I expect I will only need Glorioso to earn Top of Honor Roll, so I’m guessing FT5/G will be activated at yet another absolute bottom of the cycle. I will make arrangements this time – to snag that last one. But geez, this is more boring than watching paint dry.

There have been several small DXpeditions that advertised 160M, but which haven’t come through at all – and I have experienced this before. I guess this is the pace of DXing for me until Bouvet, 3Y0Z hits the air waves – and I am going to guess that 3Y0I will not be an October surprise after all.

DXing is so slow here these days I’ve asked a friend to email me if 3Y0I does activate – because I haven’t even looked at a cluster spot for anything but 160M in a long long time – I think since VK0EK.

Hacking Electronics, 2nd Edition

This is another superb book by Simon Monk, who has the best approach to teaching electronics that I have ever seen. I’m going to walk through each of his projects and use my oscilloscope to measure voltages at various points in each circuit to see what is going on.

He covers both Arduino and Raspberry Pi, but also covers how discreet components work and what they do in a circuit.

Highly recommended.


Polar Flutter

The only bands I regularly check are 160 and 40M, but this morning, even with my home brewed two element yagi pointing towards Bouvet (SE), I heard several Middle East and EU stations boom in.

For many years, 20M was a prime band for my DXCC chase, but that changed once I made Honor Roll and also when we hit the bottom of the last cycle.

Anyway, it was fun, and I did work John, ON4UN, who is the author of the ARRL’s fantastic ON4UN Lowband DXing book.

On Second Thought . . .

I spoke a little too soon yesterday. I “mused” that maybe Makers are a bit more “Open” to approach hams than Hams are to Makers. This is true – but after thinking about it – its necessary.

After posting on the MAKE: share web site – I realized that the Maker community is expansive – and that Electronics is just one sub genre in the Maker World. This means that Ham Radio would be an even more niche part of the Maker Community – so to expect the two to communicate on the same level is silly. Ham Radio is about two levels deeper and more “specialized” than the Maker Community at large.

I just opened the November QST magazine (electronically of course!), and there was my “Letter to the Editor” about hams and Makers getting together and maybe having the ARRL collaborate with Adafruit, run by “Lady Ada”, AC2SN. The ARRL likes this idea, and they also had several Maker – Ham projects – all look really great, and all would have a much larger appeal than say the u.RAT. So I learned a lot in just the last 24 hours, and while I spoke too soon – the learning was very good.

I have a better perspective on it now.

Happy Friday!