Posted on March 7, 2018
I still wonder why my DX Engineering DV-40-P phased 40M vertical array performs so well to ZS every night on the Short Path. The verticals are oriented NE – SW end fire, and the NE end fire direction is what works best for ZS. That’s a bit odd since the direction should be due east.
OK, this one is easy – the cardioid pattern allows enough signal to the east where its not much down from the direction straight NE. That’s the “azimuthal plane”.
The elevation take off angle models fairly low – about 20 degrees, and while the ridge to me NE cuts much of the low signal off at 14 degrees TOA, I must be just getting over the hill at 20 degrees. That’s the only answer – because ZS6CCY gives me a nightly SP signal report of 59, and many days I’m S9 +10
Posted on March 7, 2018
I have 172 entities on 80M, and the variety is really excellent. I was listening to 160M just a minute ago and it was soooo boring. I switched to 80M and I’m hearing 3C3W pounding in. That led me to look at my log and here I am.
I think the deal with post DXCC DX-ing is variety. 80M is still a band that takes some intestinal fortitude and big antennas, but it offers us on the West Coast a lot more than 160M does.
So, I am starting to like 80M a lot – just based on the fact that there is some juicy DX there and often.
Posted on March 6, 2018
Having been WA2QHN, I already knew that there is a serious advantage chasing DXCC from the East Coast. 160 and 6M DXCC are downright easy – as is 10BDXCC as compared to the West Coast – (where 9BDXCC is a really big deal). I’ve worked 101 on Top Band – 100 from my own back yard and one using my friends remote. That one remote experience was AMAZING! It truly blew me away what you can hear and work on 160M from the East Coast. To this day I have never worked an EU on 160 – the closest was EA8/RW4WR. I have worked AF – V51 and an XT. I even worked VK0EK and FT5ZM on Top Band for my personal best(s). (I am not submitting the remote QSO for DXCC – I’ll stay “pure” – hi hi . . .)
I’m now pretty much done with DXCC – even though the supreme icing on the cake will be when I work Bouvet and Glorioso – and will have worked them all. But pound for pound – nothing will match the way I felt when I made regular mixed Honor Roll, and now DXCC on 160M. Honestly, Top of Honor Roll now just feels like “something I gotta do”. It’s just like that last semester at Lock Haven State College, when I knew I’d be leaving and going to Rochester, NY to work for Kodak.
I made all of my DXCC QSO’s from my own back yard, and all were CW or SSB. Times are a changin’ and with remotes and FT8, its a very new world compared when I started DXing in 2001. Being a 37 year IT guy, I also love all of the new technology. But I wanted to close out the “old school” DXCC stuff because I was licensed back in 1973 as WN2QHN. Ward Silver, N0AX, nailed it when he called the old school “Ham Radio V1” and the new stuff “Ham Radio V2”. I love BOTH!
When I got back into ham radio in 2001 I really did have a world of DXing to catch up with. My mentor Larry, WB2KBH (N9LR – SK) who went to college at Bradley University with Craig Thompson – K9CT – tried to get me into DXing way back in the 70’s. I’d be long done with DXCC if I did get into it then. So – from 2001 until 2012 (New Years Eve going into 2013) especially – when I hit Honor Roll – that was my way of catching up. Its like Ham Radio V1 was “wrapped up”.
DXCC has also been therapy – it really made a world of difference through a divorce with children and both parents passing – all within 4 years (2002 – 2006). My DXCC “obsession” really helped keep my mind off of the sad years. And for that I can thank Clinton DeSoto and the ARRL for my personal (hobby) pursuit, and then my world really changed for better when I met my wife Kat.
Posted on March 6, 2018
OK, now I have just made DXCC on 160M and 9BDXCC 100% from my own back yard. Some of you had asked what happened to #99 – well, I had worked one of my 100 using my friends remote on the East Coast. Part was to see what the East Coast could hear on 160M – and believe me – it was an eye opener. It made a lasting impression on me.
I didn’t make a big deal because I knew this QSO would come and I would “fess up”. I’m glad I haven’t submitted for my 9BDXCC and 160M DXCC endorsements until now. Bernie, V47UR did win the highly coveted KY6R 100th slot, and I guess legally you could say 9Y4/UA4CC is my 101st, but I’m staying pure and true to my original goals. NOW I’m really happy!
Posted on March 5, 2018
My friend Tom, K8BKM told me about this book because he knows I love history books that include the human and dramatic side of the story.
I didn’t know that this form of non fiction existed. My wife suggested I buy The Sun Kings after attending a fantastic deep space show at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, MT this past September when we were on vacation. The combination of radio, Telegraphy and solar propagation and drama / suspense takes what could be a very boring history book and brings it to life. In fact, now I wonder why history books tend to be so boring. Any history worth reading always has a fascinating back story which details the events on a more personal level, and for me, that makes the story all that more compelling. The best history books also give a glimpse of what it would have been like living during that time, and how that time affected the course of history leading up to our time on this planet.
Thunderstruck combines a murder mystery with Marconi’s pursuit of his radio invention (or I might say patent and selling of the radio for practical purposes). It’s a great read. The Sun Kings had suspense in two areas – competition between scientists on key solar physics discoveries and The Carrington Event.
Since I don’t have anything on the radio that I need, I spend my hobby time tuning around, building and testing antennas and reading books such as those listed above.
Posted on March 5, 2018
A good lawnmower and chicken wire!
I have an electric lawnmower that has a great adjustable height mechanism – that is easy to use, and fast to change. I cut the grass close, then lay down the wire, then put down chicken wire as a lazy mans way to set the radials in place.
I used to staple (I used sprinkler drip irrigation staples) each and every wire to the ground in several places along the wire, then I figured out a much easier and faster way. Lay the wires down – with maybe ONE staple at the end of the run. Then roll chicken wire on top of all of the wires. you can even bend some of the chicken wire fence to hold the wires in place on the ground. Now you need far fewer staples – to hold the chicken wire down.
The chicken wire is not electrically connected to anything, but it holds the wire down and does act as a metal screen. In time, chicken wire will rot away anyway . . .
I use all kinds of wire – because my grass is actually natural grass and this time of the year it grows like crazy. It will turn completely brown (er “gold”) by May or so, so now is the time to lay this down. Even RG8X coax hides easily in the grass and you never know its there in just weeks. The grass “thatch” covers all wires completely – as well as the chicken wire!
It just so happens to be perfect timing to get this done before the Spiderbeam Fiberglass 18M poles get here. I cut the grass today, and will start laying down the radials next weekend. I have one vertical set of radials done – now the second set goes in – and will be bonded to the first set.
Posted on March 4, 2018
My earlier dreams of settling in on 160M at the end of my DXCC pursuit has hit a snag. It was very hard work getting to 100 on Top Band, and then “IT” happened. I listened to what the East Coast could hear on my friends remote station in Tennessee, and OMG – it was night and day. In fact, so much so it has got me thinking a lot about DXCC and location, location, location!
First of all, unlike some others whom I have seen post about how DXCC is dead due to remotes and now – how FT8 is the end of (something), I don’t think so. I have seen these comments on the ON4KST Chat quite a bit.
The real problem for me is neither of these things. Its variety.
There simply is not enough DX on 160M on the West Coast. I have gone several months with Zero new one’s on 160M (many many times over the past 6 or 7 years) that I am now giving up on any notion that Top Band is all that. DX and 160M Contests are now so boring to me – in fact I curse them because when they happen 160M is useless – sure there is more activity – if you like working the same contest stations – and all in the US and maybe a few in the Caribbean.
Another wider thought popped out of this 160M on the East and West coast issue. If you really look at this, just living on the East Coast gives you a big advantage for DXCC Challenge and 10BDXC. And I mean a Yuge Bigly advantage. So much for “level playing field”, and this is also why DXCC can never be a contest. But I digress.
I got so bored with 160M, I went up one band and found to my great surprise 80M humming, and this has happened a lot lately. The other thing that is important is that I have such little space in my yard for antennas, I have to pick and choose carefully. I have barely enough room for 3 antennas and I’m already crowding in more than that as it is.
We are sliding fast down the cycle, and I am betting that 80M with my phased vertical array (DX Engineering DV-80-P) will be a “new” band for me – that along with 40M will dominate my activity at the very bottom few years of the cycle.