Gain on 80 – 6M . .

When I first moved into my Orinda house in 2006, I put up a simple 20M Moxon (orange circle). That was up only 30′ or so, but I worked lots of DX with it. A year before I made DXCC Honor Roll (New Years Eve 2012/13), I had hit a brick wall – I missed E4X and ST0R. I used HFTA and realized because of my surrounding hills and because we were at the bottom of the cycle, my high angle signal wasn’t cutting it on the Polar Path to the Middle East. I bought an AB-957 and put a 3 element Cushcraft A3S up at 40′, and that made a huge difference. To make Honor Roll, I had a 40M QSO with Monk Apollo, SV2ASP/A – and using a dipole up in that 70′ tree (circled in Red because just a few months later it was cut down).

I made a few steps up, and had arrived at an AB-577 with a N6BT DXU-32, which had 3 elements on 20 and two on 40M. That was my biggest, highest (up 50′) and best antenna ever. I was shocked when I took it down – while Kurt, K7NV, assured me that the Military Mast was good enough, I didn’t realize just how big and heavy that antenna was until I tried to take it down. To be honest, I felt like I was lucky that it stayed up for a couple of years as it did. I had to take it down so I could put up 160M antennas – for RX and TX. Its was a hard decision, but it turned out well – because my “last” DXCC band – 160M gave me 9BDXCC, and that concluded my DXCC interest. Sure I have two more to work them all – but I actually have lost interest in DXCC.

Now I am back to an antenna (SteppIR UrbanBeam) up 34′, and its a light antenna on a very sturdy mast / tower – the US Towers ALM-31. The best thing – it covers 40 – 6M which is the only antenna of its kind with this footprint.

The best antenna for 40M evening Short Path . . .

The antenna that has stayed up longer than any – the DX Engineering DV-40-P phased array for 40M. I will be adding the same kind of DX Engineering phased array – but on 80M. The only thing that is the same since I moved here 12 years ago is that I have 2 elements on 20M up 30-ish feet. Back then – that Moxon was only 20M, and the A3S was only 20-15-10M. I am a lot more comfortable with a sturdy tower that can easily handle the load – and now I can have a rotator again! The DX-32 was way too heavy for a rotator – and trying to put one on top of the AB-577 would have been very dangerous – so I turned it with the “Armstrong Method” . .

Now I have 80 – 6M covered, and with gain on ALL of these bands! I cannot say that I have ever had antennas that had gain on so many bands.

UrbanBeam Up!

The UrbanBeam is up on the ALM-31 and everything works. I tested all bands and the SWR was 1.1:1 on the frequencies it tuned to. I made sure to put the KAT-500 on Standby.

I also got the two 60′ Spiderbeam Fiberglass poles set up with clamps (you have to put rubber and heat shrink tubing on hose clamps and heat the heat shrink tubing with a heat gun. I also took down my 160 / 80 / 30M Inverted L – good bye Top Band!

I’m using the excellent DX Engineering resin guy rings above the clamps and I am using Mastrant guy rope.

Tomorrow I will put the wire inside each vertical. I can’t wait to see how phased verticals on 80M play here at Chez KY6R.

ALM-31 Up, UrbanBeam Built

The US Towers ALM-31

The tower is up, the G450 rotator is on top.

The UrbanBeam is now completely built and I’ll wait until tomorrow since more showers are forecast for today.

I’ll reserve final judgement once the UrbanBeam is on the ALM-31, but I do like it’s design, and the winch crank up and down feels quite nice. It’s very well made and looks very sturdy. Much better than the Spiderbeam aluminum and Rohn / Channel Master steel push up masts. Weather permitting, I will have the UrbanBeam and the 80M phased array up and running tomorrow.

It’s a huge antenna weekend here.

DX Bingo!

I’m going to pick up where I left off with the DXCC Challenge, except I’m calling it “DX Bingo”. Here are my rules:

  1. I will only jump in pileups where I need the DXCC Entity on a band. No band-mode DX Hoggery
  2. I will use LOTW as my bingo sheet, but will NOT participate in DXCC Challenge (since its pointless from the West Coast)
  3. I will be almost exclusively CW. SSB when I have to. The novelty of FT8 has already worn off for me – I have been in front of a keyboard for more than 37 years at work – so its not nearly as enjoyable for me as CW is
  4. QRP whenever possible
  5. No remotes – all from my own backyard – I’ve made my two remote QSO’s – and that’s enough

Last night I jumped in the 3C0W pileup in SSB but didn’t work him there. He announced 7.019 and I was there as soon as he QSY’ed and worked him easily. The DX Engineering DV-40-P just delivers! For whatever reason, I still love working anything on the African Continent – its still as exciting as when I was chasing the Honor Roll award.

The combination of DX Engineering DV-80-P and DV-40-P, combined with the SteppIR UrbanBeam is going to be awesome – full versatility and maximum fun. Its really funny how 160M DXCC took up so much space in my yard antenna wise – it required the Inverted L and the two Wellbrook ALA-1530LNP loops to get the DXCC / 9BDXCC job done, and that prevented me from moving on as I can now.

Badges? I don’t need no stinkin’ DXCC Award badges!

I do like following the DXCC Rules but NOT chasing DXCC Awards now – it gives me just enough “structure” and a fun goal without it becoming a job. In fact, because of the NCDXC DX Ladder and the Clublog DX “Leagues” – I can upload ADIF to Clublog and LOTW, and the “award” is just the data. Its easy, and its fun.

When I do work a new one on a band, its 100% just for kicks. No need to lose sleep over it or go to any more lengths than just having fun. If I miss something, no big deal. I had a blast chasing DXCC Awards between 2001 – 2018, but that’s over now. I don’t even care bout Top of Honor Roll – if it happens, great, if not – no problemo!

Here’s a great thought – chasing DX Bingo is something I can do as long as I live – especially because from the West Coast (and I seriously doubt I will retire very far East of the West Coast), you can never get close to the leaders at the top of the DXCC Challenge. Now I see why this is a GOOD thing. 160M and even more so – 6M are EXCEEDINGLY difficult from the West Coast, but therein lies the Pot O’ Gold – I will ALWAYS have a DX Challenge – without the ARRL DXCC Challenge!

A beautiful little irony. Hey – the UrbanBeam puts me on 6M with a pattern very similar to this:

6M will be ridiculously futile from my QTH, but since I only have 3 entities on 6M (US, Hawaii and Mellish Reef),  it should be easy to work Canada, Alaska and some OC-Pacific entities.

But the real bands that will bring the DX will no doubt be 80, 40 and 30 – with occasional higher band openings where I still need entities – 20M is pretty much fished out here. 80M offers the biggest pond for me to go fish in at this point – so the phased verticals will be a blast I am sure.


Glorioso: Another Navassa . . .

Several people have pointed out that the French Team who activated Tromelin and Juan de Nova (led by Seb, F5UFX), reports that Glorioso is pretty much off limits – in a similar way that the US F&W entities are off limits. In fact, they said their application was rejected. They also were turned down for Crozet – (I already have that). I worked FT5WJ, Jean, a scientist visiting Crozet in March 2005.

I think the chances of working Bouvet and Glorioso before I kick the bucket are pretty good, but there’s no guarantee, and I am actually at a point where I no longer care.

I just worked 3C0W on 40M CW, so maybe I will start filling in my LOTW bingo sheet – but NOT bother with DXCC Challenge. Sure – I’ll take the LOTW credits, but won’t apply for any awards from now on. Filling in the lower bands at this bottom of the cycle will be fun – especially 80, 40 and 30, and lets see what the UrbanBeam can do to keep me in the chase . . .

Antenna Alert! Antenna Alert!

Everything is coming together for this weekend. The US Towers ALM-31 arrived and it exceeds my expectations:

Its more “stout” than I remember it being at Dayton last year.

Its very well built and the brackets are perfect for where I plan to put it.

The shipping crate was perfect.

I have most of the UrbanBeam done – all of the tubes are prepared, just one last set of steps and up she goes …

The two Spiderbeam 18M (60′) fiberglass poles arrived and I will put them up after the ALM-31 and UrbanBeam.

Final Steps


  1. Finish UrbanBeam
  2. Put up ALM-31
  3. Put rotator and UrbanBeam up


  1. Take down Inverted L
  2. Complete soldering last few radials
  3. Put up two Spiderbeam Fiberglass masts with wire
  4. Tune wire verticals

All feedlines and control cables are in place, so it’s plug and play.

Ham Radio: A Veritable Solar System of Learning

My friends roll their eyes and give me gruff every time I try to justify this antenna or that piece of gear, especially when I say “This is the best (xyz) …”

Some have also told me to slow down, that DXCC is not a race, to “Savor it”. That just isn’t going to happen.

The big question is “Why am I so passionate about Ham Radio?”. The answer is very simple.

Ham Radio offers an entire solar system of discovery, education and knowledge. I cannot think of one hobby that offers the depth and breadth of avenues for learning and discovery as Ham Radio. There’s geography, physics, psychology, history, culture, manufacturing, travel / adventure, communication, and the list seems to go on ad infinitum.

To try to nail it down to one thing is a fool’s game, but for me it’s so much fun because it makes me think, learn, and is the perfect antidote to the rigors and trials in life.

It’s a fun, educational respite where I am the Master of my Domain.