Common Mode Noise Propagation

This is an interesting read

I have noticed that common mode noise on 160M is different at night than it is during the day. I also know that the direction changes, which makes sense – fewer people are watching plasma TV’s or have LED lights on at 2 AM than at 8 PM. Once they turn these things off – then other, maybe weaker – or stronger noise is received, and from other directions. Mike, KJ4Z was over this past weekend, and when I mentioned this he said “it probably propagates”. I said “Bingo” – because this is something I have noticed for a few years.

Rotatable Wellbrook ALA1530LNP loops are fantastic Common Mode Noise eliminators

I’ve been somewhat successful building and installing common mode chokes on my receiving antennas, but the best defense I have against this noise is that I can rotate the Wellbrook ALA1530LNP loops. Besides already being low noise, they operate on the magnetic element of the signal. Now – add the ability to rotate the two that I have phased through the DX Engineering NCC-2, I can mechanically and electrically steer the antennas so they null the noise and then I hear the signal. I have found that slight changes from night to morning occur.

My portable “noise sniffer” – the Sony IC-7600GR

Which reminds me – I need to add some of the common mode chokes that I built for previous RX antenna experiments, and that are just sitting under the house right now!



Post DXCC KY6R Antenna Farm

I have a very weird odd shaped lot – framed on 2 sides of a “sort of” triangle by a creek. The nice thing – its not a typical boring sea of square “grid tract” houses, and there are lots of trees around so it feels secluded and quite amazing for being only 20 miles slightly north east of San Francisco, and 5 – 7 miles from Oakland and Berkeley. Its even more amazing that there are the “usual” deer, hawks, coyotes, owls, bats, many different kinds of birds, wild turkeys, but there are a few more “exotic” animals – red fox and bob cats.

Its a very hilly area, and there is a large steep hill in my NE direction – which sometimes has shunted the Middle East and Africa, and sometimes not. The one thing that seemed to save me from certain failure was that the DX over the pole had to have been higher angle, or in other cases, my Long Path to EU and AF on 40M is stellar every morning during the Winter, and ZS every day of the year. In fact, because both the LP and SP to ZS is non polar path, I can work ZS stations every evening and morning on the two paths on 40M. That never gets tiring since I still find it amazing that I can communicate that far away right from my back yard and with modest antennas.

Speaking of antennas, I have all fine tuned now. The 96 buried radials on 160, 80 and 30M help, and the Inverted L is more of an Inverted U, and it also has gain and directivity towards Bouvet on 30M – because (just by accident), its dimensions model as a 2 element phased array – with the vertical the reflector and the wire hanging back down the director. The other antennas just work gangbusters for what they are, and they let me work the world and do it with 500 watts easily – 1500 even just a tad bit more easily.

The Elecraft K-Line is by far my favorite ham radio station gear, and my antennas work very well on the low bands. The Wellbrook ALA1530LNP phased through the DX Engineering NCC-2 are simply amazing. Its really a simple setup that provides tons of fun.


Cushcraft D40 on 20M!

The Cushcraft D40 up to the LCA coil is a full half wavelength on the upper part of 17M. Besides 40M, I have found that it loads up nicely on 20 and 17M – I will try 15M tonight. I heard Z60A the best yet on this antenna this morning – but right as I started calling him he said QRX and then I had to go to work.

We are so close to the same conditions as 2008 – 2009, and I have been told that 2009 was an epic year on Top Band. I very, very much look forward to this – so much so – that now you understand why I have pretty much taken down any serious high band antennas in deference to the low bands. 160M has come roaring back since the beginning of the year and my dream of making DXCC and 9BDXCC is so close – just 2 away. At Christmas time I remember thinking it would take another year at the snails pace I had been at.

3Y0Z is a disappointment, but I fully plan on using a Remote IF Bouvet and Glorioso activate at the bottom of the cycle like FT5GA did. The local people who worked Glorioso in 2009 were those who ran over to W6YX, the Stanford Club station. I struggled and never heard them. My neighbor, W6NV offered his station that has a clear shot that direction, but I refused due to stubbornness. I won’t do that again! I will call the last two “Mulligans” just like those who went to another station did. But right now – and for the next several years, the only action is on the low bands. I am more than OK with this – I retire in 8 years, so maybe I will have the last couple saved for retirement! Most likely I will have Top of Honor Roll even before retirement.

Its good that the D40 works on the high bands – so I have something that is up high, in the clear, and has nice directionality. I don’t expect either Bouvet or Glorioso to be activated for at least 2 years – so I am burrowed in on the low bands these days.

I’d bet that most DXers gravitate to the low bands – or perhaps 6M – because of the “ultimate DX Challenge”. It does get really boring working stuff that is so easy on the high bands.


DXpeditions are Risky!

I’m praying that the 3Y0Z Team gets home safely. That’s all that matters now.

I donated $250 and want the team to keep it to help with costs. I hope they can recoup some from the company they chartered – the principles of 3Y0Z are the best of the best and I’m sure they had the right contingencies in their contract.

Having been a co-organizer who watched three ship bookings go south while collecting donations, I know from a “back office” perspective how the 3Y0Z team feels. 3Y0Z had announced Nigel Jolly as their transport, I donated, then they changed ships. I know exactly how this goes!

It’s amazing these projects even happen . . .

What I also learned is that real DXpedition Leaders never give up and the 3Y0Z team have many potential DXpedition Leaders. I say this because there are some older leaders but also several younger team members whom I expect will pick up where the older fellows leave off when they retire.

I don’t expect that Bouvet will be activated for at least 2 years now – it will take time for everyone to handle shutting down 3Y0Z. It took 2 years after VK0EK to finalize everything – the first year the big stuff in a flurry, the second year the last tiny tidbits. There will be gear to retrieve and ship back and then return to the vendors, accounting to do, etc, etc

Bob KK6EK and I chatted and he told me a few back stories about DXpeditions that almost ended in tragedy that he was on. He also reminded me that VK0IR was delayed several times and where $100,000 was lost, which was a bigger deal in 1997. We both feel that VK0EK or even the VP8 DXpedition could have experienced something similar, and that we were lucky.

I was a co-organizer, but not a Leader or Co-Leader. There is a big difference. For example, my wife said I could go on VK0EK, but only if it was my dream to do so. It wasn’t my dream. But it was Bob, KK6EK’S dream. My dream was to help Bob and the team fulfill their dream. As an “Armchair DXer”, I live vicariously through the DXpeditioners travels.

And without Armchair DXers, you have NO DXpedition.

Will Bouvet be activated before I go SK? Yes, and I’ll bet twice. Once with a team of 4 or more, and once with a scientist going there with a scientific DXpedition. The one bit of news I heard that reminded me of Bob, KK6EK never giving up (when I was ready to give up on VK0EK) is that some team members are already talking about trying again.

The drive of these dreamers is amazing, and inspiring.

Ham Radio . . . For The Fun of It

I enjoy my ham radio “shack”. Its really is a shack I built in the garage and is quite cozy. Like this fellow above in the Gil, W1CJD (SK) cartoon – it has a heater and cooling. A big part of the hobby is station “configuration” – and its fun to try new gear and swap pieces in and out.

In the last year I have been doing serious A – B testing of antennas, and right now I am testing the DX Engineering DV-40-P phased vertical array vs. a Cushcraft D40 rotatable dipole. The Vertical Array is the better antenna for the evening ZS short path, and the rotatable dipole is better for the morning Long Path. Both are superb performers and offer fantastic ROI. They are dirt simple to install and don’t require a huge tower and all that comes with that.

I love building things such as the uRAT and my Inverted L base switching circuit. They both were fun, exciting, and the Inverted L base circuit makes my Amplifiers happy on 160, 80 and 30M, and that antenna performs very well.

I stopped watching TV probably about the time I got back into Ham Radio – 2001. I guess you could say that Ham Radio has become my TV!

There is Life After DXCC

I had a great 17 year run chasing various DXCC “awards”. I do think they are more like working problems in a school workbook than awards.

I have worried that without structure, would I still want to be a DXer?. The answer is Yes, absolutely.

I love the integration of components in the Elecraft K-Line. I’m at a point where 500 watts is plenty enough

I love asking technical questions in a hypothesis like fashion, then building something and doing A B tests.

I love chasing counters on Top Band, and will do so until I can no longer play radio.

It’s all just for fun now, and that makes me happy.

40M Long Path Test (#2) : Cushcraft D40 for the Win!

On the Long Path to Italy, the Cushcraft D40 is the clear winner, by one to two S points. This is about the same difference that the DV-40-P wins on the Short Path to ZS at my night time.

I0QMN is booming in with a S9 +20 dB signal.