ARRL DX Contest @KY6R

20 Meters was a huge surprise today – I worked 3 new QRP New Ones . . . 

There was a great late afternoon opening – to both the Caribbean, and to Southeast Asia at the same time. I was very excited to be able to test the loops on 20M vs. the UrbanBeam – and guess what? The loops now perform the Diamond Inverted Vee on 80M and the UrbanBeam on 40 and 20M. Using the UrbanBeam with the Loops in Stereo Diversity its a thing of beauty – and a lot of fun – but just switching to RX IN using the loops – I can see that the loops are now killer from the AM BC band all the way up to 20M. I did do some 30M tests, and yes, the loops also perform very well there – better than the UrbanBeam.

That is how hot the 20M band sounded – using Diversity Mode.

This is V3T from Belize – where he is weak on the UrbanBeam but strong on the loops.

I snagged Indonesia, Belize and Paraguay for new ones toward the FREQ300 – and I was only just testing a few things in the shack and wasn’t even thinking about the contest.

National SW-3 and Indoor Loop Antenna?

http://makearadio.com/index.php

Check out Dave, N2DS’s web site – its really awesome. He has built quite a few loop antennas and many crystal radio sets.

I purchased this piece of vintage test gear a few months back

Late last year I purchased two vintage pieces of test gear – and I had fancied using the case to build a Paraset like “Spy Radio”. I might use this one for a spy radio – or perhaps just a crystal receiver like Dave, N2DS has done, and maybe use the other wooden case for a base of an indoor loop antenna.

The only piece of radio gear that I haven’t been able to sell is the National SW-3, which is a very cool regen receiver, and I have the coil set for the upper part of the AM BCB band and 160M. So, it perfectly fits using an indoor loop antenna – just as a conversation piece in the shack. I have shelf space above my work bench – so if I can’t sell it, I might do that.

I do have two different “Paraset” kits, but am not so sure I will build them – instead, I might sell them. This is because the more I thought about it – the more I realized that the Elecraft KX-3 is like a modern much higher performing rig and in many ways is even more like a Paraset rig (in spirit) than these kits are. With the Begali Adventure Mono key attached – its just too much fun – so my nostalgia kick pretty much evaporated before the clock hit 2020.

I am glad I did try my hand at old tube rigs – but I know for sure that that has “jag” has passed, and I have returned to the one thing that keeps me in Ham Radio more than anything – antenna experimentation – even more than CW. I have to admit – restoring the Gold Dust Twins power supply was a blast, but designing and building the KY6R Big Mag Loops are more my style for sure.

 

Maximum Usable Frequency: How Low Can We Go?

Like a Pathological Narcissist Ruining a Free Democracy, we ask “How low can we go?”

https://www.sws.bom.gov.au/HF_Systems/6/5

The answer is “Pretty damned low”. Oh right – the Ionosphere. The MUF is right now at 2 mhz – and I see that red blob up north where the MUF gets down in the AM BCB range. Life at the bottom of the cycle.

Lets hope things start improving – what goes down must go up, right?

K3 Stereo Diversity on 40 and 80M

There was quite a bit of activity on 40M tonight

Here is an example of a KE5 station who was weak – with diversity on. The UrbanBeam was on Ant1 – the transmitting antenna and fed to the main receiver, and the two KY6R Big Mag Loops are on the second receiver:

And then a stronger station up in Seattle:

I hope you can hear the difference.

80M was in even better shape – less noise than 40M

I noticed that 80M had less noise as we hit sunset. The noise on 40M increased , but it still was S7 instead of what it used to be – S9, making 40M pretty much unusable. It is now usable. So that goal has been reached.

This 80M sound clip is even better as far as showing the “bounce” between the UrbanBeam and the KY6R Loops. His signal is literally fading back and forth rapidly between the Inverted Vee and the loops.

I was very pleased tonight because I now have confirmed that the KY6R Big Mag loops do work better than the Inverted Vee and the UrbanBeam on receive. The loops were inexpensive and MUCH bigger and better than the commercial loops, the two preamps cost the same as about one commercial mag loop, the rotators were reasonable, and the NCC-2 was very expensive. HOWEVER – I can say with out a doubt, and shouting like an old man:

PUT ALL OF YOUR EFFORT INTO YOUR ANTENNAS. THAT AMPLIFIER WON’T HELP YOU HEAR THE WEAK ONES!

Nor will the amplifier eliminate your noise problem . . .

Between goofing around with BCB SWL DXing and playing on even just 160, 80 and 40M, I have already hit my goals and I am very, very pleased. Next I will try out 20M, 30M and eve above – to see how well this new RX system works there.

By the way, here is the Cady chapter on the K3 Diversity implementation:

http://www.pj2t.org/ccc/Elecraft_k3_Cady_ver2o_Diversity.pdf

Mystery Solved: MUF Map Shows MUF is 80M

This is by far the best MUF Map out there. There is another that is really old – from 2003 and pales in comparison to this one. 

https://www.sws.bom.gov.au/HF_Systems/6/5

The Maximum Usable Frequency (MUF) has been very low at night for quite a while now. I’ve been wondering why 40M has become so noisy – and with these magnetic loops, I am able to steer away from man made noise – but there really is natural noise because the MUF is so low – 40M propagation just isn’t there like it was.

I haven’t checked 160M much, but I did check 80M and the loops are doing an incredible job.

OK – this all makes some sense now. Its great to see this tool and how clear it is and easy to read.

KTNN: The Navajo Nation

One of the most interesting AM radio stations out there – KTNN

Kat and I were car camping in Utah years ago – we were at (Goblin Valley State Park), and since there were no FM radio stations to be heard that far out – we tuned the AM band. We were having some nice red wine at sunset and we heard this chanting on 660 AM. Turns out, it was KTNN in Window Rock, Arizona. Also – they play country music, which was fun being out in the middle of nowhere.

The KTNN Nighttime Coverage Map

The frequency has competition from Mexico – but the KY6R Big Mag Loops are doing the job – I can phase KTNN in and at least two other stations out.

And thank God, its NOT a FOX affiliate – they are their own transmitting company and also they have the last 50 KW AM radio license issued by the FCC, so – besides fighting two other stations on the same frequency – KTNN has a good signal here in Orinda. Its also bilingual, and they broadcast lots of local events – so they truly are one of the last great AM radio stations in the USA.

The ON4UN Lowband DXing Book – 5th Edition – 10 Years Later

The ON4UN Low Band DXing Book

I have absolutely revered the ON4UN Low Band DXing book – but it has a HUGE gaping hole in it. It doesn’t even mention magnetic receiving loops. Tom at his W8JI.com website does mention them, but they have been passed over for Flags, Pennants, K9AY Loops, Beverages, Double Half Delta Loops. Sure – if you have the acreage – you can put up several beverages, but what if you are on a postage sized suburban lot?

You know what? I FAILED going down the flag / EWE path – even the K6SE variants – which are ground independent. They modeled very well in EZNec but were anemic at best compared to my Big Mag Loops. My K9AY array was awesome until a neighbor put up something in his house. I didn’t bother with short verticals (DXE and HiZ). The truth is – since the last Edition of the ON4UN book – we now have to deal with more RFI than we ever had a decade ago – when the final edition of that book was published. In this regard – the book is now out of date.

My success was to not just go with the commercial magnetic receiving loops (Wellbrook, W6LVP, DX Engineering Pixelpro and MFJ), but do something MUCH better. However, just with this list of mag loops – you can see that a new antenna sub market has started and grown since the 5th Edition of this book.

The KY6R Big Mag Loop with Wellbrook ALA100LN. Something that would need to be in the 6th Edition of the ON4UN Lowband DXing book – that will never be printed – but really should be.