Top 10 Most Wanted Almost Normal Again

Kosovo has now dropped down the list to #15, and VK0EK has knocked Heard Island down from #5 to #33, so I am very pleased at how the VK0EK team made that happen.

Glorioso is now at #13, so its getting close to the Top 10 – but at one time recently it was #12. The June Baker DXpedition will send it back to #12 most likely, but it is funny how some of these move around on the list from month to month.

Its also interesting that two Top 10 are places last activated by Cordell DXpeditions (San Felix and Kure). Cordell won’t be doing any more DXpeditions – but I’ll bet both are activated in the not too distant future. I wonder what announcements come out of Visalia and Dayton in the next couple of months.

Farewell, Top Band . . .

I’ve made my goal with 160M DXCC – which also means 9BDXCC, and because I have very limited space for antennas, I will be replacing my Inverted L with a pair of 60′ verticals phased with a DX Engineering DV-80-P within this next week. There is far more interesting activity on 80M than 160M here, but it was a great journey, and for the West Coast something I’m proud of.

Today I got just about everything prepared for the verticals – the control and coax and phasing boxes and home brewed feed point boxes are already installed. Later this week the Inverted L comes down and I re-route the control cable for it to the DV-80-P. I also did some preliminary set up for the Urban Beam – I have the G-450 rotator and UrbanBeam control cables set up.

I think I will finish the UrbanBeam tomorrow – as long as I can figure out where to stage it before the ALM-31 tower gets here.


More Cowbell (radials)!

We haven’t had much rain this Winter, but it looks like March could bring enough rain to finalize my radial field. These radials will be under the grass in one month.

The 40M array, which is just below this small patch has 44 buried radials and the ground is covered with chicken wire. The chicken wire is not connected to anything, but I had a bunch left so I used it to hold the radials to the ground. This saved me from pounding in a million wire Staples.

The new radials that you see here bring the entire radial field up to about 160 Most have under the grass “thatch” for several years, and now I have added 18 more using all of the surplus junk wire that was just sitting in a pile under the house.

I need to solder the originating ends together and bond them to the existing radial fields.

I already have two home brewed vertical feedpoint boxes, and will put these up as soon as I take down my 160M Inverted L. I will receive the Spiderbeam 60′ fiberglass masts before next weekend, so I will be able to be on 80M with my phased array by next Saturday night.

The other fun task I’m doing this weekend is testing the wiring of the SteppIR UrbanBeam and also testing the Yaesu G450 rotator. I might even finish the UrbanBeam and stage it on my trellis or on saw horses out back.

I expect next weekend will be the big 80M weekend and the following weekend will be the UrbanBeam and ALM-31 weekend.

Yee haw!

Verticals in the Mist

One of two 40M phased verticals

We might technically be just over a week from Spring, but the trees are all about to “pop” like this buck cherry tree.

I have a creek that defines the hypotenuse of my triangular lot, and there are many trees – redwoods, blue spruce, pine, cedar, oaks, buckeyes, mulberry, apple, cherry, Ginko, and Japanese maples.

When they all have their foliage, this place is very secluded – in fact, it’s hard to believe I’m 5 mikes from Oakland and Berkeley and 20 miles from San Francisco.

KY6R Antenna “March Madness”

Two 60′ (18M) Spiderbeam verticals will go up next weekend – this weekend I will be laying down the last radials and installing the DX Engineering DV-80-P phasing boxes, feedlines and control cables. Since we are “Springing Forward” this weekend, I will most likely take down the 160M Inverted L later in the week after work – we will have a lot more light which will be great. I will also complete the UrbanBeam wiring this weekend and finishing the sweep tubes next weekend.

The weekend after that, the ALM-31 will go up. The SteppIR UrbanBeam will already be laying on my trellis on the deck waiting for the crank up tower.

This means I will have my next phase antenna farm up by March 25 – if anything gets delayed the following weekend – April Fools.

No joke!

On another note – there are two antennas that have stood the test of time – the DX Engineering DV-40-P 40M vertical array – which has always played way better than expected, and the same thing for the two Wellbrook ALA-1530LNP’s phased through the NCC-2. I have literally years of antenna testing, and given my small lot and my DXing goals – I view my backyard as a sort of “antenna lab”. I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed the last 12 years here in Orinda. Yes, being here with Kat is the main reason – and her support of my wacky hobby is a major part of my happiness. She thinks I’m nuts but tolerates me.

There always has been and always will be something special about antennas in my own back yard. Its a feeling that unlike work or school – where you pretty much have to follow the rules – in my back yard I can try anything I want at any time and feel like “the master of my domain”. While others have derided using remotes – my thing is using the stations and antennas that I have built. My QTH is not good for antennas, but I make the best of what I have. If I built my own remote as Mike, KJ4Z has, I would be equally proud using a station that I built – in fact – adding in the remote control even ups the ante. But I do like being able to change it any time I want. Maybe its one tiny benefit of owning property in this crazy state.

I think the main reason why I enjoy antenna “futzing” is because I know that the antenna is the gateway to the magic ionosphere – which lets me travel the world in my cozy radio shack. I guarantee you President Dennison is nowhere near as happy as I am.

The Robots are Here! (KH6JF and the Waveglider!)

KH6JF – HF Voyager – photo (c) from the Jupiter Research Foundation –

A short while ago, Mike, KJ4Z wrote a guest blog about a “DX-podition”. This has now happened exactly as Mike wrote about, and also developed VK0LD, the 100% remote controlled and satellite linked autonomous DX-podition to Heard Island –

Jupiter Research Foundation – the “Waveglider” – Image (c) from N6FW’s TAPR 2017 Lightning Talk

From N6FW – Kurt Kiesow’s wonderful “Lightning Talk” at TAPR 2017 in St. Louis –

Mike recently worked KH6JF on FT8, and the connection between VK0LD and KH6JF is just about the most exciting thing I have seen in Ham Radio. In fact, maybe Mike and I really need to check out TAPR, but I digress.

For me, my silly Elecraft KPOD u.RAT project got me into all of the same technologies used in this area of “Ham Radio V2.0”, so I can really appreciate what Kurt, N6FW and his team have done.

Bravo Kurt and Jupiter Research Foundation!

80M and 40M Short Path to Glorioso

The Short Path to Glorioso may not be impossible as I had previously thought, only because I will have phased verticals on both 80 and 40M. I know that Bouvet will be easy because its not a polar path, and because it is so close to the ZS path I work daily. When I say close I mean “given that the cardioid pattern is as wide as the DX Engineering DV series phasing arrays are”:

I have worked a C9 during the bottom of the cycle on the Short Path on 80M, so this means maybe being at the bottom of the cycle will be good for me and 80M – because how many hams have 2 elements on 80M? Not many. The EIRP for 500 watts at 3 dB gain is very substantial – online calculators, even adding 1 dB loss in the coax show more than 50 dB.

My C9 80M QSO gives me hope for FT/G which Murphy’s Law says that it will be activated at the bottom of Cycle 24 . . . The best news is that based on my D40 experiments, FT/G on the morning Long Path will be great with the UrbanBeam. 30M will also be good and I am sure now – 80M.