DX or Bust!

Its half way through October and I’m not too encouraged regarding 160M DX. I feel like I’m on my way to the DX Abyss . . .

I guess I need to dial my expectations back, and now I just hope I can work 2 ATNO’s on 160M to get to 90 by end of the year. It seems reasonable, even though the T88 and others I had hoped for would have been easier to work. Alas – such is life on Top Band . . .

A New Man

I mentioned a while back that I was starting a new regimen to lose weight which will take the weight off my knees.

I more than double my cycling mileage to 60 – 70 miles a week, and have switched to a mostly Paleo diet.

I lost 8 pounds then hit the plateau.

So, I’ll kick it up a notch and lose the beer and start yoga on Monday.

I’ve learned that once we get past a certain age, you have to work extra hard to try to stay near your weight and fitness level.

I pretty much knew I’d have to go this route, and I’m staying honest with my self and going to kick it up a big notch.

RI1ANO and 3Y0Z

RI1ANO has been tearing up 30M tonight – solid 599+ and working the entire US. 3Y0Z is 2000 miles farther and more SE, but since its a water path, I doubt that will be a big deal. We were both right in the grey line when I worked him, and it sure was a major pipeline.

SSN = ZERO, K = 4, A = 4 with some solar storm

South Shetland is almost 100% water path – I am only about 20 miles from the Pacific Ocean, so I will bet the first hop hits salt water and that’s how it goes all the way along the path – crossing the terminator as well.

With 3Y0Z, the path will go over part of CE and LU, but it also will be mostly a water path. ZS8M was tricky, and VP8’s were easy, so with Bouvet being in between – but with 3Y0Z in the terminator the same time the West Coast is – I am getting pretty happy about the possibilities.

Top Band Halloween Altar

The KY6R Top Band Halloween Altar

Pumptallica seemed to be a good “starter” course, but I figure I might need something a bit more “substantial” for the repast, so I am bringing out an old Assemblage – one of my first and a series of fantasy radios using old radio parts that were headed for the trash heap.

I’m hearing W1AW very, very well, and so here’s to that EU and Scandinavian path dropping down several hundred miles to spotlight the SF Bay Area.

Takeoff Angle Path Analysis on 160M for EU and 40M for ZS and 3Y0Z

Last night, when I saw quite a few spots between Washington State, Montana and parts of Oregon – where they were working EU and Scandinavia on 160M. I am getting excited because maybe we will get some of that here at Chez KY6R . . .

I wanted to use Google Earth (Classic) and check to see which direction 10 degrees is – and what is in the way – and what take off angle(s) would help. The answer is that there is a hill that goes almost straight up and is 17.2 degrees up to the top of the hill from my QTH. The Mod Bob is oriented East and West, and it just so happens that on 160 and 80 the azimuthal pattern is omnidirectional!

On 40M, my array has an end fire direction that is toward EU, and I do just fine getting over that hill, so  think I will do it and soon. The plots from DXE on the 40M array say this:

So, that clears the hill – more than I had expected it would.

The Mod Bob was great for FP – but FP has a smaller hill with a more gradual climb of 21.8%:

Lets look at the Mod Bob plots:

For FP, it was great (non polar route), and its takeoff angle peaks at about 25 degrees – which means it clears the 21.8 degree hill top in that direction.

Lets look at the main broadside lobe (directional broadside on 40 and 30M) – east and west, and which is close enough to how my 40M phased verticals are oriented in the broadsided direction. 17 degrees – which means the Mod Bob clears everything it needs to to get to ZS or 3Y0B, and on any of the low bands! OK – how about the Long Path to ZS? So low (2 degrees) that it doesn’t matter at all, and hence why I did so well with VK0EK and FT5ZM and anything in that LP path to ZS. This is truly my best, non encumbered path.



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.