The “Dirty Dozen”!

I’m now on a jag to get to 90 with only 10 left to go. T88XA was spotted this morning after my sunrise – so that’s one that should be easy. 5T5OK will require serious luck as I have not yet heard them, VK9XI starts up in less than 2 weeks, CT9 is a possibility, KG4HH another in October, VK9CI in October, A52SJ – doubtful – but you never know, V47JA mid October, 5L3BI maybe, VK9MA – probably, J5T – probably because these guys are amazing and I worked them when they were on Guinea, 9G5W – maybe. I’m going to say that I will work at least 8 this Winter, and with some luck more. Maybe Baker, KH1 in June could be my last DXCC for 160M and 9BDXCC? C’est possible!

I do believe that I will at least be at 90 with 10 to go sometime in October. Then it will really feel like I’m close. The best part is that 160M counter needs will exceed my lifespan, which means I will be a DXer for the rest of my life, its just that it will be very slow going, but I’ll take up the slack by continuing to experiment with Ham Maker stuff.

I’m loving my Mod Bob and Palstar BT1500A set up more and more as the days go by.

FP/G3ZAY: 160M DXCC #88

There was just enough of a “sunrise enhancement” to hear Martin, FP/G3ZAY.

I’ve tried for several days, and the only antenna I could really hear them on is the Wellbrook ALA1530LNP. What is interesting is that at night, its swamped with noise – and the Mod Bob is my night time RX antenna. In the early mornings, the Wellbrook seems to shine these days. The DXE DV-40-P also has been noisy lately.

Proving that you can never have enough 160M RX antennas!

This is my “Autumnal Equinox” Top Band QSO, so its time to celebrate:

12 more to go. I’m starting to think that just earning DXCC on Top Band from the West Coast is quite a bit harder than DXCC Mixed Honor Roll!


Autumnal Equinox Watch . .

While I enjoy the Vernal Equinox and the Summer and Winter Solstices, the Autumnal Equinox is my favorite. This Friday will be the Equinox for 2017.

This the highest rated (Beer Advocate) Imperial Pumpkin Ale – and I always have one bomber of pumpkin ale a year. I have never seen this in bay area stores, so will have to try another – maybe the Dogfish Head version.

There is an FP and a 5T on 160M, but I have an S6 noise level. The A is 17 and K is 2. Early this morning, I heard a few beeps and boops from FP, and he heard me and gave me a signal report – but I did not hear him come back to me.

I’ve been stuck at 87, with my last new on on 160M last July 7 – my only Top Band new one all summer.

Cheers to the Autumnal Equinox, and hoping to get to 100 this “DX Season”. I need Baker, and working them on 160M in June should be totally do-able. I’d love it if that were my last one on 160M and 9BDXCC – but I will need big luck for this to happen.

While I wait for DX to happen, I will have a nice weekend of tinkering. I will follow Mike, KJ4Z’s lead and get my new Asus Tinkerboard and KX3 running on FT8, and will see if I can get my Field Strength meter put together. Then I want to really dig into learning how to use my oscilloscope and signal generator.

Beautiful Montana!

Downtown Missoula, Montana

We spent the last week in Montana. We arrived at Spokane International Airport last Saturday and drove to Missoula. The drive from Coeur d’Alene over the 4th of July Pass was spectacular. We passed the Great Divide and entered into the MST timezone – one hour ahead of PST.

Its a great college town – small enough to be cozy and with great old architecture and nice old neighborhoods and a very compact but beautiful college campus. They have done a great job incorporating the river (that runs through it) into the town. Its really a charming place. One of my favorite musicians, Colin Meloy (lead singer / songwriter / guitarist from the Decemberists) went to school here. I can totally see his influence from Montana, and where he ended up in Portland, Oregon.

Disclaimer – I grew up with the Appalachian Trail almost “running through it” and the Erie Lackawanna railroad stopping at our town on a spur route which was ripped up in 1964, when I was 5 years old, and the Delaware River and Delaware Water Gap – so you might see the connection. While I spent the first third of my life on the East Coast, old Western Towns and the Western Railroads speak to me. I just can’t get enough of this big beautiful West. The mountains out this way are for real!

Our favorite place to eat and drink was the Tamarack Brew Pub – it had above average food and drink, and their Imperial Vanilla Bourbon Stout was exceptional – better than their IPAs. Heck – Bourbon influenced anything seems right in Montana. Goes well with Bison and Elk and Trout and other local food that is quite hearty – and helps during the winter months.

Onward to Bozeman …

Montana Ale Works in Bozeman

We stayed at a super hip hotel called The Lark Hotel,

and it was tied for first place for my favorite hotel to stay on our trip.

Maker Assemblage art in Bozeman Montana at the Lark Hotel

The Lark had “Maker / Assemblage” art – like this cast aluminum map of Montana with switches and LEDS that were like an old turn of the century “Musee Mechanique” piece.

Fun and funny too!

The best brew pub on the entire trip was here – at an old Railroad Station – and called the Montana Ale Works.

They have their own beer – but more importantly – they are a great tap house with 40 taps – so its impossible not to get a great beer here. Better yet- their food is superb – and the mushroom stuffed trout with wild rice was one of two best meals I had the entire trip. Just fantastic. I had a local double IPA called “The Juice” that was killer.

T-Rex on display at The Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman

If I were to move to Montana, it would have to be Bozeman. They have one of the best collections of dinosaurs in their Museum of The Rockies and Planetarium really blew me away. Not only did I get to stare a T-Rex in the face, I sat through a planetarium show that more than touched on the effects of the various magnetic and other factors with ionization of our world and ionosphere. I did not expect to have a “ham radio experience” here, but I did.

I also did get in touch with Bob Leo, W7LR, and that was nice. They even had a nice little American Computing Museum, which is a great companion to our larger and more impressive Computer History Museum in Mountain View. But gee whiz – great food, beer, technology and a very cute town between Glacier and Yellowstone – its hard to go wrong here – as long as you like very cold and snowy winters.

The Glacier Lodge – in East Glacier National Park

This was a very nice (and rustic) hotel. Forget about their restaurant – after waiting for 45 minutes for a waiter / waitress, we left and went to a local tacqueria and it was much better, and resonable. But still – this is a grand old place for sure. In the morning I chatted with a farmer from Ohio who traveled here from Chicago on Amtrak (which stops right at this hotel) and he told me all about the amazing fields of wheat in Montana, and how that wheat compares to what he grows in Ohio and what each is used for. Certainly one of the best chats over a cup of coffee in front of a big fireplace at 7 AM that I have ever had.

Glacier National Park

We lucked out in Missoula and Bozeman – the air was relatively clear given so many forest fires ravaging this area. We couldn’t go on our way through the “Going to the Sun” road, so this was about as good as it got. The next day we took Highway 2 to Whitefish.

Highway 2 between Glacier National Park and Whitefish

It was smoke free and quite beautiful anyway.

Esssex, a train stop between Glacier National Park and Whitefish

In a tiny railroad stop called Essex, you can stay at an inn, but I was smitten with colored cabooses that you can stay in.

On the road to Whitefish, we saw yellow and even orange aspens just turning color. The first snow of the season was forecast for that evening.


It was snowing in Glacier National Park for the first time this season.

It was perfect!

The Rocky Mountain Outfitter as seen from The Kalispell Grand Hotel

We had a fantastic lunch at a brew pub in Whitefish, but ended up staying at my “tied for first” hotel – The Kalispell Grand hotel in Kalispell. Both of these towns were fabulous, and I loved the “living history” feel of the Kalispell Grand. You just can’t get a better feel for Montana and the Wild West with past lumber and railroad and mining history than this.

The Kalispell Grand Hotel entrance – this fellow greets you as you enter. What a great place!

We visited my brother in law the next day in northern Idaho, and stayed the night in one of my all time favorite US cities – Spokane. After a really super lunch in Brownes Addition (a neighborhood I would gladly live in) – we boarded the plane and returned to Oakland.

Another fabulous vacation – planned and arranged by my lovely wife Kat. Thanks Kat!



Mod-Bob vs. DXE DV-40-P: Final Test and Results


While I probably could get away with taking down the DXE DV-40-P, I won’t. As you can see, the 40M phased array – elements 7 and 8 are too close to the Mod-Bob, and result is this pattern distortion to the 40M array:

This is with the 7 element leading and 8 lagging – the pattern is slightly skewed, but not terrible.

The other element is also not terrible, but it is skewed.

The most interesting thing is that the Mod – Bob is not affected at all – in fact, it might even benefit the antenna, but I do not have sophisticated enough test equipment to test it out. Since I have already had these two antennas up almost a year, and since the Mod Bob did not clobber the DXE DV-40-P remote switch and phasing box, I will leave them both up. I don’t like how close they are – but I need both, and this is the best I can do. I have no other space on my weird lot at the bottom of a gulch with steep ridges all around. C’est la vie – I’ve done very well in spite of my QTH.

On the air I get several options with both up, and the best guide to go on moving forward is to transmit on whatever antenna is the “reciprocal” of what I receive best on. The only unexpected “anomaly” in a very good night time Short Path test was ZS6CCY who said the Mod Bob was better than the 40M array. The US stations always said the 40M array was best on SP (Florida and Texas). On the LP, completely as expected, the DXE 40M array cleans house – there simply is no contest, and I do not want to give that path up – even though its not usable for 3Y0Z, its my favorite path to work just casually and just to experience my favorite path in all of DX-ing (except the very rare 160M path openings that go 11k miles – but which are literally once or twice in a lifetime.

I’ll just perform some winter maintenance and check everything before the rain starts, but as always, its good to analyze your antenna farm to really understand what’s going on. I will also “park” the Mod-Bob on 160M, so I am always ready for 160M, 40 and 20M – all being resonant antennas, and can switch and tune on 80 and 30M when need be – which is ultra rare here.


40M KY6R Antenna “Shoot Out” – Initial Test Results

Just two American “Presidential Hopefuls” dueling. Some things never change . . . 

I just got home from a week in Montana, Idaho and Washington (Spokane) and “magically” my DX Engineering DV-40-P worked. I am sure its an intermittent connection of some sort, and luckily, Bill, ZS6CCY was able to do some serious on the air testing with me. I also did several tests with hams in Texas and Florida – all within the path to Bouvet. I also heard V51B and even ZS8Z, so it was  great test. An LU would have been great, but this was a “good enough” first test for sure.

The Mod Bob is consistently 1 dB better on receive than the DV-40-P, but the noise level is higher. HOWEVER, on transmit, I have been told that I am 1 S unit better on transmit (consistently) in South Africa, but the DV-40-P is consistently several S units better in all USA stations along that same path (above on the map).

There is no real risk in any of this – I hope to test ZS on the long path tomorrow morning, but as I have mentioned, when I work 3Y0Z, it will most likely be SP on 40, 30 and 20M.

The Wellbrook ALA1530LNP received ZS6CCY very well and with low noise. 

I will go check the connections tomorrow on the DV-40-P and will leave it up for a while (since it hasn’t hurt anything and as they say “you can’t have enough antennas).

I think 40M will be THE band for 3Y0Z, so maybe having options is the best way to go.

But I also need to gather more “data points”. I’d love the Mod Bob to simply win hands down, but before I take anything down, I better make sure its a good move.

Your Replacement … Cy7

Meet your replacement.

His name is Cy, aka Cy7, short for Cyborg7. He can generate code automatically based on sensors that give him more data points than the human mind can possibly keep up with. His cameras are always watching you. He is constantly learning and storing data patterns that he can process faster than the human brain.

He has no heart or feelings. He has a Twitter account and is quite active and “popular” there. He tells people he’s from Devon, in the U.K – a little town called “Bickleball Tip” near Newton Abbott. His British accent and confident strut makes (ridiculously thick and over sized black horn rimmed glasses wearing) high fashion designers swoon – they love his dead sexy asexual nature and believe he was sent from heaven to wear and show off their new lines. He tells stories about Hay Tor, knowing that that will capture their imaginations of a well traveled and adventurous man – thing.

He can switch between the Object Oriented and Functional paradigms, and get this – he can code based on lower level MPP paradigms where one chip can be a massively parallel processor the size of half a credit card. In fact, OO and Functional programming will be replaced by Mitosis Programming – all the rage amongst Cyborgs and the latest in EMPP (Exponentially Massive Parallel Processor) chips.

In the year 2025, humans will no longer be needed at all for traditional tasks and jobs and will be relegated to leisure. Artists, farmers and poets will be the one area where Bots really suck at, and these areas will be where there is a huge opportunity for growth.

Joint replacement surgery will be replaced by regenerative tissue cells grown in Petrie dishes and simply injected into joints with long needles.

DXCC will have merged with DX Marathon and CQ DX Field and the successor to FT8 will be all the rage.

Humans will at least still be in charge of the Cyborgs, because they will have encrypted access to the power source of their machine friends and will have improved on their security after the 2017 Equifax watershed moment in security history.