ZS5IE Worked S9 at 9:30 AM PST (1630z) on 40M

It was quite amazing today to hear ZS5IE this late in the morning on the fabulous 40M Long Path. I actually worked him at 1630z where he was S9 and I was S5. I can’t remember this path being open this late. Iain was running 300 watts to a 2 element inverted vee and I was running 1KW to my DX Engineering DV-40-P phased verticals.

Guess I’m good to go on 40M – hi hi

Two Great Lowband Antennas

If you have a good radial field, it’s hard to beat an Inverted L on a small lot. It’s easy to match it on 160M and 80.

If you don’t have radials, the Mod Bob is a great way to get on all low bands on a small lot

The Mod Bob requires a good balanced tuner like the Palstar BT1500A

The u.rat: switching vs stepping

The one thing I really don’t like about the u.RAT is how slow it is to turn the roller inductor. I also noticed that you start wearing down the wire on the roller.

One answer would be to use a relay board. You could switch in taps of a fixed inductor, and use the switches on the KPOD to control which tap you want. 

In fact, you could do the same thing with doorknob caps, but the variable capacitor that I have tunes nicely with a stepper motor, and with no wear or tear on the component as there is with the roller inductor.

Dios de los Muertos

Yesterday we had the best Halloween party at Credit Karma. I felt like a kid again – kudos to our wonderful Events Team – they knocked the ball out of the park!. What an amazing company to work for – I’ve been at CK for 8 months and just love it.

The Inverted L with home brewed remote tuner at the base has a wonderful distribution SWR curve. Its PERFECT for my needs

I found that I can tune the antenna at the base and shift the SWR curve so that my SPE Expert 1.3K FA amplifier then finishes the tuning just perfectly in the CW portion (and even the lower portion SSB) of 160M (and the SSB portion of 75M, and that’s perfect since 99% of my work is in the CW portion of the 160M band, and then I check into that nightly 75M SSB net as well – just for fun.

Because I rarely use 80M CW – and if I did it would be 10 minutes to go out and manually tune – the need for the u.RAT goes away. The u.RAT most definitely  would have been needed on the Mod Bob to tune 4 bands and across each of 160, 80, 40 and 30M.

Speaking of the Mod Bob – if you want all 4 of these low bands and can accept that the antenna will work DX and domestic stations – albeit a little bit of a compromise – then the Mod Bob is a GREAT antenna – the only one that I have come up with that can do this (without requiring a good radial field). A good balanced tuner like the FABULOUS Palstar BT1500A is required. I have a funny feeling it would beat the old and very low loss Johnson Matchbox on 160M because if I remember right – they only cover 80 – 10M, but Ed, AC6CX says you can add some doorknob caps to compensate for that. I sure love those old Matchbox tuners – some gear is just classic and was so well done.

I’m very glad that the SWR curve above is what it is because it shows that my radial field is not terribly lossy. The kiss of death for using radials is if you end up with a broad banded antenna – especially on 160, and as you can see, this isn’t the case on any of the bands. 60M is covered too – but I have no interest in what is like a CB channelized band. If the FCC ever did that to any of the other bands, that would ruin ham radio for me.

Wow – FT5WQ/MM is very loud on 40M right now – and I worked him easily. I wonder where he is? I already have Kerguelin and Crozet, so I am covered.


Trick or Treat!

After a year of horrible Dirty Tricks, this year Halloween brings us some long overdue Treats. Happy Halloween!

160M DXCC: The Last 10!

Happy Halloween!

Yesterday the weather really changed and it really felt like an honest to goodness Autumn day. There was that “nip” in the air, and cycling was especially nice.

Now that I have hit 90 entities, I’ve broken a psychological barrier – and I almost feel like the last 10 might happen faster than I expected. I just noticed that many more DX-peditions that will have 160M, in fact, there are 9 that I need on the calendar before the end of the year. Its not usual that I end up working everything listed that says they will be on 160M – because sometimes there are no shows, and in several cases I never end up hearing that station when they are on. But I had three chances at working an ATNO on Top Band this week, and I did work 2 – V26B and PZ5K. So – lets say my chances are 66% – that means I could be up to 95 by New Years Day. The other good news is that there are many that are unannounced, and many that show up during a contest. There were 6 possible new one’s this past weekend, and while this weekend had crummy conditions for CQ WW SSB on 160, before and after, conditions have been great.

I’m also seeing that the ADXO calendar gets filled more as we get closer to the activation time. For example, there are only 3 listed that I need that will activate in 2018, but I am sure there will be at least twice that many.

This means it is possible that I could get to 100 by the end of the year (with a minor miracle), more likely by Spring or next Fall. But I predict I will make 9BDXCC and DXCC on 160M in 2018.

Imagine if this happens and I also bag 3Y0Z (a good probability). Then my only goal DXCC wise would be to make my last DXCC QSO – Glorioso. That would be oh so sweet.



You Don’t Need a Yagi to Make Honor Roll

When I started DX-ing in 2001 I had only wire antennas, and I made it to 300 with just wire and 200 watts. AT about 275 it became so difficult that I put up an Cushcraft MA5B then a Force-12 C3SS. BTW – I worked P5/4L4FN with 200 watts and that MA5B . . .

When I started I had a low dipole on 40M, but when we hit the bottom of Cycle 23 I got more serious and put up Christman Phased verticals on 40M. That difference was just like the difference going from a low wire to a 2 element yagi – as far as results are concerned. I am sure that a 2 element yagi up only 50′ is a bit better than phased verticals but maybe by 1 dB – not enough to worry much.

40M is my second highest total band. Since with Mixed Honor Roll, I worked an ATNO wherever I could. I did not start out trying DXCC Challenge, so in the beginning I would work an ATNO on one band and try to work them on another band or mode for an insurance QSO. If I were chasing DXCC Challenge, my 40M woul be a lot closer to my 20M totals.

But now that I have been through one full cycle – almost a cycle and a half – I realize that it is very possible to work DXCC Honor Roll with just two verticals, a phasing box and some coax. And furthermore, getting to 100 on 160M – with VK0EK, FT5ZM and three African stations in my 160M totals – reminds me that verticals are very good antennas.