Ruh-oh: 5BWAZ!

Besides DXCC Honor Roll and 9BDXCC, only Top of Honor Roll have interested me. But now that the ARRL has added CQ Awards data – just for fun I checked my 5BWAZ bingo chart – and its a lot more interesting than I had expected.

Ruh Oh, could this be my next DX “Muse”? It sure is way more interesting than I had expected – and because I have just enough slots to make it interesting – but not so many to make it a slog – this could be fun. Its a bad time to think much about 15 and 10M – but that’s OK – while I was in a big hurry for DXCC, this time I’m in no hurry.



The VK0EK to 3Y0Z “Transition” . . .

When I was in the main drive of my DXCC Chase, I actually marked time by the ATNO – callsign. Pretty interesting thing. Its almost like what company you worked at during what year(s).

After the Heard Island VK0EK DX-pedition, I had two DXCC ATNO’s (Bouvet and Glorioso) to get to Top of Honor Roll, and I had 9BDXCC and DXCC on 160M to achieve. Today the door shut on 9BDXCC (its completed), and while I might have some fun on 6M – (since the UrbanBeam covers it very nicely) – its “all over but the DXCC #1 shouting” . . .

I’ve been wanting to change my station and antennas since VK0EK almost 2 years ago. I was patient, and I ramped up for 3Y0Z, and of course, that fell through. While at Dayton a year ago – where VK0EK was awarded DX-pedition of the Year, I stumbled on the UrbanBeam and US Towers ALM-31, and the images of both were stashed in the back cobwebs of my brain. I’m no longer counting on a Bouvet activation – but its still possible. Glorioso is the French Team’s “Navassa” . . . One day both will be activated – but I expect the wait could be up to 10 years.

SO – as soon as 3Y0Z announced they had to abort their mission – the cobwebs cleared out and I was “On a Mission”. That Mission just ended – I have my “post DXCC” station and antennas. I have a new rig that has the features I wanted, and am now embarking on my next phase of this fun hobby.

I recently read about a ham who just threw in the towel after making Top of Honor Roll. I do understand that to a point – but I knew from the start that there would be an end to my DXCC years – and so along the way I did think about that and mentally prepared myself for it. Plus – since I like building stuff and experimenting – I have always had a multi-dimensional take on the hobby.


9BDXCC, Finally . . .

Maybe Friday the 13th is a Good Luck Day? My last LOTW credit that I needed – and the hard QSL card that had to be checked by an Online DXCC App + mailing that JT5DX card to Newington finally happened. Both took WAY longer than normal – as if to mock me – heh heh

My $10.50 160M little metal plate has been ordered – and in days I will proudly affix it to my 5BDXCC Plaque.

Solar Cycle 24: The “Big Thud” . . .

I had anticipated that as soon as 3Y0Z would have been over, we would be where we are now. I fully expect two years of being at the bottom – but I was happy to hear 3B7A on 20M CW and SSB last weekend. That at least shows that good DX can be worked at the bottom of the Cycle. Here is what I worked ATNO wise between 2007 – 2009:

VU7, D60, BS7H, 1A0KM, 3B7C, TX5C, VK9DWX, K5D

The best bands – 40, 30 and 20M

So, all is not lost, but the high bands will be pretty darn quiet for a good 2 years now.

$1100 a QSO?

Dollaradio Station – 100 North Palmetto Avenue, San Francisco – Built about 1926, In order that Captain Robert Dollar could communicate with his steamship line. In 1927, the station received the first word from Admiral Byrd of his establishment of a camp on the Bay of Whales, Antarctica.” – from The Pacifica Historical Society

The final nail in my Elecraft K-Line’s Coffin was being 2 away from Top of Honor Roll and with no new ATNO possibilities for a year – probably two (in my estimation). I wanted in one radio what I had in my K3 Plus SDRPlay RSP2Pro. That is exactly what I got in the Icom IC-7610 – and quite a bit more. One thing that the rig has is a built in SD Card reader / writer and audio recorder – and I will be using it a lot more than I expected. Here is a great example – using the NCC-2 and two Wellbrook phased loops – just by turning the PHASE knob in the AM BCB band (1300 khz) – I can tune in a Chinese speaking station – then an Indian speaking station – and then I go back and forth. [As an aside – look at how multi-cultural we are now – I can tune across my local AM band and hear Cantonese, Mandarin, several Indian dialects, Spanish and English]

Having several thousand dollars invested in an amplifier and high powered auto tuner makes no sense – because since all I will be doing is having the occasional band fill – but will be 99% of the time an SWL (with a big ear on the ham bands), then my latest move makes all the more sense. After many great years with the best DXing integrated line of gear (Elecraft K-Line), it was time for something new and different. For these last two – I will visit my neighbor with a nice bottle of whatever he likes!

Since my divorce in 2005/6, I have lived a life of “have only what you absolutely need”, and that thinking came about because one minute I was on 5 acres and a McMansion, the next minute a town away on a small lot. Life sometimes forces you to move fast and carrying extra baggage is just a royal PITA. That thinking morphed into what I think is a great life hack – “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” . . . its good for the soul (and the planet). The classic win-win!

The last two QSO’s to get to HR #1 – if I sat on my KPA-500 and KAT-500 represent money that could be used on something new and interesting, and so that’s where I have arrived. I’m now in my stress free / casual DXer phase  – in 7 – 8 years it will be a retirement phase.

High Power, RFI and “Stress Free” DXing

The interesting thing about DXing is the back story we all seem to have, but you only find out others have the same problems when you bring it up in conversation. After all, it’s far more interesting to talk about our ATNOs, QSL cards or new gear than say, RFI.

When I was chasing DXCC on 160M when I transmitted – especially with 1500 watts – I would turn on the Trane HVAC’s fan – which sent a chilling blast of cold air through the house. I had to turn off the heater when a new one was on the air – it was a PITA.

On the other side of the coin – when a neighbor added “something” (I’m assuming a large wall mounted plasma TV on a wall near my K9AY loops), my first 160M RX antenna became useless and swamped with noise. That sent me into a year long search for a better solution – and the phased Wellbrook ALA1530LNP’s through the DX Engineering NCC-2 has been the best solution and I am still enjoying it even as an SWL. When someone turns on the dimmer switches in the house my receiver is wiped out – and when the Trane HVAC comes on – heat or cool – my receiver is also wiped out. I’ve lived with this since 2006.

Last weekend, a neighbor down the hill – who came up to my fence when I first moved into Orinda in 2006 – (to say they could hear my transmissions in their stereo speakers) stopped by to tell me about RFI all these years later. After that initial contact, they just went away – I heard nothing. I also did nothing explicitly, but I did stay off 80M, so coincidentally, they heard nothing except possibly me checking into the Mission Trail Net but they never complained – until 12 years later! So, I did a test with that neighbor over the phone last weekend, sure enough – I found that its only on 80M, which is great because that is the least important band – and one I can avoid.

I was able to find a new Bencher YA-1 Low Pass filter – (these are harder to get these days since Bencher was sold a few years ago). I haven’t put it in line since as much as I wanted to start using my new 80M 60′ vertical, I at least know that the neighbor mostly only uses their stereo around dinner time – so its easy to avoid causing RFI by just not being on 80M at that time. But I will try the filter anyway – but I’m a little skeptical since that antenna is about 50′ from their house. The DXE DV-40-P 40M phased array is even closer – and thank God I don’t cause RFI there – or with my UrbanBeam. I might go the full distance and put clamp on ferrite chokes on their speaker wires, but I actually don’t want to get that “close” to the neighbors – I’d rather just not cause RFI from my end – if that’s possible. . I gave them my email address and asked that they just let me know when its a problem. They seem pleased with that.

The one thing I am really amazed at is how from 2006 – 2018 I was able to earn my DXCC Honor Roll and 9BDXCC (with DXCC on 160M) and have much bigger antennas and 1500 watts and not have any neighbor complaints. I never liked 80M – so maybe I was just lucky in that regard. I’m also really surprised that when I was chasing 160M DXCC I didn’t cause the neighbor RFI.

All of this also adds a very big reason to avoid using an amplifier – I’d much rather use my 100 watt or even Ten Tec Argonaut 505 at 5 watts and be able to send CW than to be an SWL only. But since I mostly just listen anyway – I’m enjoying the ICOM IC-7610 immensely as the ultimate SWL machine – its general coverage plus ham band receiver plus my antennas – barring the RFI on 80M is perfect for where I am in the radio game.

This 7610 and SteppIR UrbanBeam plus DV-40-P have injected a new and fun excitement to my hobby – and just listening to 3B7A is big fun – because I already have transmitted enough to know what I need when to make a QSO – being 2 away from HR #1 gives me a feeling of being a Master DXer who has “been there, done that”. Now I get a kick out of listening to pileups and following along. I sit back with the phones on – and am actually happy that I don’t need to bother jumping in pileups much any more. That used to be stressful – but rewarding too.

I will try the Bencher YA-1 tonight and check with the neighbor. I’ll report back with my findings. I will also first try 5 watts to see if that solves the problem. Then add the filter and crank up to 100 watts.

Now I’m a “stress free DXer” . . .

3B7A 40M Propagation Study


DX Atlas says my path to 3B7 is 353 degrees SP and 173 LP. There is no way that I am hearing them on the Short Path at 353 degrees, so I must be hearing them on the Long Path. They have been weak except a really strong “burst” for maybe 5 – 10 minutes – and it is a grey line enhancement.

I tried beaming my UrbanBeam 40M dipole toward the ZS path – which is 90 degrees but it was worse. I also tried the “other” side of due North, and that was OK – but not great.

My DV-40-P has gain in the NE – SW directions. The UrbanBeam is low, but rotatable. When I heard the strong burst it was on the UrbanBeam. This suggests that I am hearing them in a possible duct – or at least a less “unhindered” sub antarctic polar path.

So – the UrbanBeam wins this one over the DV-40-P, and it was to do with higher angle and the ability to aim in the right direction.